Thursday, June 14th, 2012
Scrub Notes is a website/blog dedicated to giving students tips on getting into medical school and becoming a doctor. Recently they were kind enough to review my memoir In Stitches. Here is an excerpt from their review:
The book’s high point comes when Dr. Youn enters the wards as a third year
medical student. The story regarding how he handles his first ‘difficult’
patient is particularly poignant. The vignette embodies what is meant by
empathy in medicine. While cliche, such moments show just how ‘actions
speak louder than words.’
Ultimately, In Stitches is a wonderful, light-hearted narrative of one person’s
transformation from outsider to professional. Even for readers not pursuing
medicine, the book offers lots of laughs for anyone who has ever felt
Thanks for the great review! To read more, visit Scrub Notes HERE.
Tuesday, May 15th, 2012
As part of the Michigan Notable Books Library Tour, I’ll be visiting my old home of Grand Rapids, Michigan this Wednesday, May 16th. I’ll be giving a talk at the Grand Rapids Public Library at 7 pm, discussing “From West Michigan To MSU To Hollywood: A Doctor’s Journey.” There will be books for sale and a book signing afterwards.
Thank you to the staff at the Grand Rapids Public Library for inviting me!
I hope to see some of you there!
For more on my talk at the GR Public Library, click HERE.
Friday, April 27th, 2012
I’ve announced before that my humorous memoir about becoming a doctor, “In Stitches” has been named a 2012 Michigan Notable Book. For all you Michigan natives, the Library of Michigan will be holding a Night of Notables at the Library of Michigan in Lansing. The event will celebrate the books that were awarded and include a formal book signing for all the authors in attendance. Should be a great time! Click HERE for more details if you’d like to attend.
As a part of the 2012 Michigan Notable Book Award, I’ll be giving a series of talks at Michigan libraries, starting this weekend. Here is my schedule for anyone in the area who would like to attend and meet up!
Sunday, April 29th at 4 pm – Morenci Stair Public Library, Morenci, Michigan. For info, click HERE.
Thursday, May 3rd at 7 pm – East Lansing Public Library, East Lansing, Michigan. For info, click HERE.
Saturday, May 5th at 2 pm – Houghton Lake Public Library, Houghton Lake, Michigan. For info, click HERE.
Wednesday, May 16th at 7 pm – Grand Rapids Public Library, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
I hope to meet you soon!
Monday, March 26th, 2012
“What a pair. Double D’s. Poking up at me like twin peaks. Pam Anderson, eat your heart out. Too bad they’re attached to a fourteen-year-old boy.”
So begins Anthony Youn’s “In Stitches,” a refreshingly honest and humorous memoir about the life of a surgeon in the making. For pre-med students curious about what it actually takes to become a doctor, “In Stitches” offers a one-of-a-kind look into the transformation from college kid to working physician.
With stories including a recounting of his date with a fire-eating carnival worker and a description of his small-town roots, “In Stitches” differs
enormously from the medical memoirs that typically occupy bookstore shelves.
“I’ve read a lot of medical memoirs by physicians, and to me, they all came across as being overly serious,” Youn said. “In a lot of ways, the books focused on keeping the doctor as the hero of the story. And what I wanted to write was a book about becoming a doctor (and) the process of medical school in particular.”
“These books were typically written by 50-something-year-old men who wrote stories about how they change patients’ lives. And my book is exactly the opposite of that.”
Youn said he wanted to write a book of equal parts truthful and funny that would appeal to a broad range of audiences.
For more of the Michigan Daily article on In Stitches, click HERE.
Friday, March 9th, 2012
Hopefully this video trailer for my book In Stitches brings a smile to your face. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, please pick up the book that Publisher’s Weekly called, “Full of fascinating stories and laced with self-deprecating humor in the midst of dark desperation, providing a refreshing insight into medicine.”
It’s available at your local Barnes and Noble and on Amazon through the link below:
Thank you to everyone who has purchased “In Stitches!”
Monday, February 20th, 2012
Growing up, Dr. Anthony Youn was dealt an interesting hand: a tiger parent, an abnormally large jaw, and many, many dateless Friday nights. He details these situations and many more in his book In Stitches, a memoir which follows his humorous—and often touching—path from awkward student to successful plastic surgeon.
“I set out to write the definitive book about growing up Asian American, going through medical school—all true, unadulterated, unfiltered, behind the scenes, warts and all—and becoming a doctor,” Youn explained. “I wanted my book to reveal the real life of a doctor-to-be. Real life can be laugh-out-loud funny, shocking, heart-breaking, and heart-warming.”
Youn took the time to speak with us about the life lessons he faced during medical school, and what you can learn from them too.
Q: “Tiger parenting” garnered a lot of media attention last year and a lot of controversy. Would you describe your father as a tiger parent – and how would you say your upbringing influenced your life and career path?
A: My dad is a Tiger Father. He grew up on a small rice farm in rural Korea. Incredibly, like many first generation Asian immigrants, he was able to live the American dream and become a successful physician. Unfortunately, all he knew were two extremes: being dirt poor in Korea and being a wealthy doctor in America. Nothing in between. That’s why the day I was born he decided I would be a doctor, too. He feared that if I became anything else I would end up living in the kind of poverty he’d worked so hard to escape.
As the dutiful son, I followed my Tiger Father’s instructions and became a doctor. As time passed, I began to see my dad in a completely different way. He went from being the tyrannical, controlling Tiger Father to a person whom I appreciated and respected, faults and all. I even began to find humor in how he raised me. Besides, how could anyone not see humor in a father who says, “You want to be a pediatrician? Little people, little dollah! Spend all day giving suckers to little babies!” If I didn’t laugh, I would have cried.
Q: Being an outsider is an ongoing theme in your book, but ultimately, it didn’t seem to hold you back. What is your advice to others who are going through these feelings? How did you move past these feelings yourself?
A: Most of us have moments in our lives where we feel like an outsider, an outcast. For some, these feelings last a week or a month. For me, these feelings lasted twenty-two years! During high school I was toothpick-thin, with a terrible haircut, Coke-bottle glasses, braces, and Hannibal Lecter-like headgear. In college I was a big loser. I couldn’t find a single girl who wanted to date me for the entire four years!
My advice to anyone who is currently feeling left out, lonely, or different from everyone else is to PERSEVERE. Life changes, and almost always for the better. At one point, Steve Jobs, J.K. Rowling, Mark Zuckerberg and even Lady Gaga have felt like outsiders. It’s amazing how life can change as long as you follow your passion, work hard, and persevere. My hope is that anyone who has ever felt like an outsider will identify with and be inspired by In Stitches.
Q: There was a lot of description of your time in medical school in the book, but an equal amount of time was spent on detailing your social struggles – particularly with girls. Why did you feel it was important to include this aspect of your life?
A: Physicians like to be put on pedestals. An honest physician will admit that we don’t go into medicine for the sole purpose of helping people. If that was the case, then we’d be social workers, special ed teachers, and nurses. Like most doctors, I entered the field of medicine for many reasons: to earn a good living, to make my parents proud, to help people, and to elevate my standing in life so a decent woman just might be interested in me.
A big part of my personal growth has involved my lack of a love life. This all changed once I went to medical school and my med school colleagues mentored me in how to date successfully. They taught me three rules, as described in more detail in In Stitches: (1) All single guys should read Cosmo religiously. (2) Never talk about your mother on a date or at the bar. (3) Buy a lighter – you’ll have to figure this one out from the book!
Q: You mentioned a few patients/cases that stuck with you in the book – which case do you feel has impacted you the most? Why?
A: The first life I “saved” as a medical student really had nothing to do with medical knowledge at all. Frank was a junk dealer who was diagnosed with critical coronary artery disease. If he didn’t consent to open-heart surgery he was going to die, and die soon. He smelled like old cheese, had the personality of a pissed-off gorilla, and distrusted the medical system so much he refused to sign the consent. He was estranged from his family, so they weren’t available to help.
My intern assigned me to talk with him about the surgery, in hopes of saving his life. After being cursed at and told to leave him alone, I tried one last thing. I sat with him and told him about how my mother’s life was saved with the same surgery that could save his. He consented to the surgery and even reconciled with his family because of it. This taught me the lesson, stated by Hippocrates many years ago: “It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person has.”
I always try to keep that lesson in mind when treating my patients today.
Q: Any more books planned for the future?
A: I would love to write a follow-up to In Stitches. I’m humbled and flattered by the overwhelmingly positive response it’s received from critics and readers alike. My hope is that people consider In Stitches‘required reading’ for anyone who wants to be a doctor or know what their doctor thinks. The next one will have big shoes to fill!
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/02/08/words-wellness-in-stitches/#ixzz1mK2CQGU9
Tuesday, February 14th, 2012
Today is the day! Not only is it Valentine’s Day but today is the day the paperback version of “In Stitches” hits stores. I’m really proud of it. For those of you who haven’t heard, it’s a laugh-out-loud memoir about growing up Asian American and becoming a plastic surgeon.
From Publisher’s Weekly:
In his first book Youn looks back from the cushy perspective of the plastic surgeon at his transformation, letting readers in on a secret: it wasn’t easy. Young Youn was an outcast, an “Asian American…in near wall-to-wall whiteness”; his adolescence was an accumulation of sour moments eventually leading to medicine. But the journey, as Youn describes it, is hilarious. A dedicated student, he spends much of his time with his roommates in the “nerd room.” He practices sutures on pig’s feet and chicken breasts. His roommates tutor him in matters of love and lust. Only two hours into his very first rotation, Youn loses his first patient; “Patients die. Get used to it. This is a hospital,” the attending barks at him. As Youn moves through specialty rotations, agonizing over what to select, his father urges him to make the right choice: pediatrics, for instance, means a life of “tiny people, tiny dollah!” Ironically, it’s a night during Youn’s Peds rotation that changed the course of his life. Youn’s description of his journey from high-school outcast to rock star plastic surgeon is full of fascinating stories and laced with self-deprecating humor in the midst of dark desperation, providing a refreshing insight into medicine
There are a few changes to the paperback version from the hardcover. The cover design has changed, and I’ve removed a large amount of unnecessary language (a.k.a. swear words) from the text. Otherwise, it’s the same story that has earned raves from N.Y. Times bestselling author Jen Lancaster, author/TV host Rachael Ray, and countless writers and bloggers.
If you’re buying the paperback version of “In Stitches,” feel free to drop it off at my office. I’d be happy to sign it for you!
To learn more about In Stitches or read excerpts, please click HERE.
To purchase your own copy of In Stitches, the paperback, please click HERE.
THANK YOU to everyone who buys my story! I guarantee you will enjoy it!
Thursday, January 26th, 2012
I’m really proud of the new cover for my humorous memoir In Stitches. I think it represents the book perfectly. Thank you to the awesome graphic designers at Gallery Books for creating such an amazing cover! The paperback hits shelves February 14th, just in time to buy it for your Valentine!
Tuesday, January 17th, 2012
AIDS has affected the lives of medical caregivers throughout the world. I’m no exception. While I don’t often encounter patients with HIV/AIDS in my current practice, I am proud to say that I’ve played a part in performing research on anti-HIV medications during my training. I was recently given the privilege of being interviewed for A&U Magazine (America’s AIDS Magazine) about my book In Stitches, my encounters with HIV/AIDS, and plastic surgery. Somehow the discussion veered off to Spiderman, The Karate Kid (Ralph Macchio version), and even the Carpenters.
You can read the A&U Magazine interview HERE.
Thank you to Dann Dulin at A&U Magazine for his enthusiastic interest in In Stitches!
Wednesday, January 4th, 2012
Every year the Library of Michigan chooses several books to be named a Michigan Notable Book. I’m extremely proud to announce that my humorous memoir, In Stitches, has been voted one of these books for 2012. It’s really an honor to be part of this great group of books and authors.
From the Detroit Free Press:
A compact biography of Detroit Tigers great Hank Greenberg, a study of the fall and resurrection of the auto industry and an exploration of Michigan’s role in the Civil War highlight the 2012 Michigan Notable Books chosen by the Library of Michigan.
Announced today, the list includes 20 books published in the past year that feature people, places, events or authors related to Michigan or the Great Lakes region. The list has been a year-end tradition since 1991 with selections made by a panel under the umbrella of the official state library, part of the Michigan Department of Education.
Authors don’t receive prize money for the award, but the prestige of appearing on what has become a high-profile list does invite greater visibility and a potential bump in sales. Many of the authors also participate in a book tour that will bring writers to 50 libraries across the state in April, May and June.
“A lot of states recognize authors but I don’t know of any that do it quite like we do, which includes getting authors out into the public with the tour,” said Randy Riley, who coordinates the Notable Books program for the Library of Michigan.
Thursday, December 1st, 2011
The Northwest Asian Weekly, the only Asian weekly serving Washington state’s Asian community, has printed an in-depth interview they conducted with me about growing up an awkward Korean-American, becoming a plastic surgeon, and my humorous memoir In Stitches. You can read it HERE!
After reading the article, it hit me… do I really say “like” that much???
Thank you to Stacy Nguyen for the nice article!
Tuesday, November 29th, 2011
Not much! But the Berklee Groove, The Student Voice of the Berklee College of Music enjoyed my memoir In Stitches so much they decided to interview me about it and offer a giveaway to win a free copy of my book. You can visit BerkleeGroove.com HERE.
By the way, I do have some minor musical chops. I took piano lessons as a kid (forgot it all), played cello for the Greenville Middle and High School Orchestra (forgot all of it), played guitar and sang in a band called Migration (disbanded 10 years ago), played guitar and sang in my church band (no longer invited to sit in), and have now taken up the bass.
Still… I’m no real musician. I’m more like a three chord-playing hack with an average voice who’s played dozens of gigs.
Friday, November 18th, 2011
Thank you to the staff at Street Beat for having me on the program!
Friday, November 4th, 2011
The Southern New York Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society has nominated In Stitches as a finalist for its 16th Annual Books For A Better Life Awards. For more information, visit their website here.
It’s an honor being nominated! Thank you to the Southern New York Chapter of the MS Society.
Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011
I’d like to extend my sincere appreciation for the great medical bloggers who’ve recently reviewed my memoir IN STITCHES. If you get a chance, please visit their sites! These are some of the most interesting medical bloggers today. I’ve included information on each of them.
1. Spastic Surgeon: Amusing tales and anecdotes from the operating room: http://www.spasticsurgeon.com/
2. Medicine and Other Stuff: Fun blog by an Ob-Gyn / Mom: This blogger was also an MSU grad like me! http://medgoddess.blogspot.com/
3. Plans and Laughs: A medical studnet on a medical leave of absence: http://plansandlaughs.blogspot.com/
4. DoctorPremed.com : The inside scoop for the medical admissions process: http://www.doctorpremed.com/
5. MD Journey: Thoughts on medicine and life during the medical school journey: http://mdjourney.com/
6. JenniferHawke.com: A mom, and M.D., and an entertaining blogger: http://www.jenniferhawke.com/
Thank you to the bloggers above for the great reviews of In Stitches!
Friday, October 28th, 2011
For everyone in the medical field, there is a fascinating radio program out of Indiana University School of Medicine called Sound Medicine. They recently interviewed me for a segment about In Stitches. We discuss interesting patients, growing up wanting to become a doctor, and other related topics. You can listen to it streaming online HERE.
Thank you to everyone at Sound Medicine for the nice interview!
Friday, September 16th, 2011
I recently had the privilege of being interviewed by Michel Martin on NPR’s Tell Me More. We discussed a multitude of topics related to IN STITCHES, including growing up Asian American, plastic surgery, the hidden motivations behind becoming a physician, and the Doctor-God complex.
Thank you to NPR’s Tell Me More and Michel Martin for having me on your fine show!
Friday, July 15th, 2011
“They tell us everything,” I say to Romeo one afternoon.
“Oh, yeah,” he says. “You know what they call us? Shrinks with knives.”
No doubt Romeo Bouley is quirky; he’s also a talented surgeon and a gifted teacher. He’s fast and steady with a scalpel, patient and generous with me. He allows me to suture more than anyone else has and even offers me a few incisions of my own. As I near the end of my month in Beverly Hills, Romeo invites me to return for a longer apprenticeship after I’ve established my residency. I accept his offer. I’m no longer hooked on plastic surgery. I’m obsessed. I’ve found my calling. I would love to work side by side with Romeo. Wouldn’t mind living in Southern California, either, at least for a short time.
My last day. Our last procedure. Romeo will perform breast-implant surgery on Michelle, a stripper who’s recently celebrated her fortieth birthday, a difficult birthday for many people, the end of the line for most strippers. For over twenty years, Michelle’s stunningly oversize breasts have been her signature. Now they have literally become weights, causing her severe neck and back pain and brutal headaches. She has gone from performing at prime time in top Hollywood and Vegas clubs to stripping at noon in a dive by the airport. She wants to find a new line of work and needs her breasts reduced.
The anesthesiologist knocks Michelle out, we scrub up, gown up, prepare for surgery. Before Romeo makes his first cut, we ponder her pendulous breasts, the most imposing mountains of silicone I’ve ever seen.
“Gigantomastia,” Romeo says. “Okay, I’m going in.”
He makes a flawless incision around the areola of the right breast and starts cutting down to the implant.
“Grade-four capsular contracture,” he says as he cuts. “I’ll break down the grades for you. Grade one. Buttah. The way a breast should feel. Natural. Like you’re back in high school. Grade two. Firmer than normal. Looks fine, feels a little firm. Most people can’t tell the difference between one and two.”
He pulls back, waits, allows the bleeding to stop. “Grade three. Too firm, appears abnormal. We’re talking Nerf football. Not what you’re looking for in a breast. And then there’s this. Grade four. A bowling ball. The scar tissue is so severe it makes the breast round, hard, and cold. Here, feel.”
He puts my hand on her left breast. Massive, rock-hard, cool to the touch. Forget stripping. How did she walk with these?
“Guys like these?” I say.
“You can take your hand off now, Tony.”
I have already.
“I amuse myself,” Romeo says. He chuckles, resumes cutting into the breast, going farther toward the implant. “I’m at the capsule,” he says. “This scar tissue is thick. Knife, please.”
The surgical technician passes him a scalpel. With immaculate precision, he works through the scar tissue down to the implant. Finally, sounding like an egg cracking, the implant pops through the scar tissue. Romeo puts aside the scalpel, grabs the edge of the implant, and yanks out a slice of clear silicone shaped like a discus, high as two Big Macs. He hands the implant to the surgical tech and peers inside the open breast pocket. “She’s stacked,” he says.
“She is huge,” I say.
“No, Youner. She’s stacked. There’s another implant in there.” He grunts and pulls a second implant out of the breast pocket. “You don’t see this often. It’s extreme. Anna Nicole Smith time. Only the truly insane plastic surgeons do stack jobs.”
“You ever do one?”
“All right, now for the left side.”
After Romeo removes the stacked implants in her left breast, he focuses on the scar tissue, which has progressed to such a severe state that it has turned the inside of both breasts into a chalky, calcified mess resembling the plaster of a cast. For over an hour, Romeo chips away meticulously, removing every bit of scar tissue, piece by piece, until all that’s left of her breasts is a mass of stretched-out skin.
He then inserts temporary sizer implants that look like small inflatable balloons. On his count, we raise Michelle to a sitting position so Romeo can determine what size he should make the new implants. We lay her back down, and he begins to fill the sizer implants, inflating her breasts as if pumping up a tire.
“This looks good. Around a D cup. Two five-hundred cc implants, please.”
The OR nurse opens two new breast implants and hands them to Romeo. He inserts one into each breast cavity. These implants will never fill out Michelle’s breast in the same way as the stacked two-baggers, which is, of course, the point. Instead they settle into the bottom of each breast socket.
“Rock in a sock,” Romeo says. “That’s seriously what we call it. And now for the breast lift.”
He begins suturing the nipples onto their new, higher location. He cuts off the excess breast skin and stitches the incisions back together, working with the concentration of a jeweler. The process takes over ninety minutes. At last he takes one step back. Before us lies Michelle and her new breasts, smaller, youthful, beautiful. Together, Romeo and I apply gauze dressings.
“Oh, shit,” Romeo says.
“Her nipples.” He retreats another step. “Shit. Look. They’re turning purple.”
A moment ago her nipples were full and pink. They have darkened to the color of an eggplant. Romeo speaks faster than I have ever heard him. “Sometimes when you perform a breast lift on a woman with implants, the blood supply to the nipples becomes altered. Needle.”
A small needle appears in a flash. He stabs the areola lightly, repeatedly.
Dark red blood oozes out.
“Fuck. Her nipples are congested. Let’s get some of these stitches out. We’re looking for the nipples to turn pink.”
We remove a few of the sutures that hold the nipples in place.
“Well, Anthony, we got a situation. Purple means there’s blood flowing into the nipple but not going out. The blood is pooling up in there.”
“Sorry, this means—?”
“Worst case? Her nipples will turn black and fall off. Instead of a nipple, she’ll have a gaping hole.”
“Shit,” I say.
“Yep. Deep shit.”
“What do we do?”
I laugh. I can’t help it. You have to love how Romeo keeps it loose even during a crisis.
“I’m serious,” he says.
“Be fancy. Call it leech therapy. I’ve done it several times. We bring her to the hospital and attach a bunch of the bloodsuckers right there.”
He points to each of Michelle’s nipples. “They suck the old blood out. In a few days, her body will create new blood vessels that will take over for the leeches. Hopefully.” He turns to the OR nurse. “You know the drill. Call an ambulance.”
“Wow,” I say. “Leeches.”
“New technology, my ass. We’re going medieval.”
. . . .
Romeo escorts Michelle to the hospital. I stay behind. I say goodbye to Heather and the rest of the staff, then I run an errand on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood. By the time I head back toward Beverly Hills, the sun’s starting to set. I drive into the hills, find a spot to park on Mulholland Drive, and watch the lights of the San Fernando Valley flicker on. It looks as if I’m peering down at a second night sky. At around seven, I head to the hospital to check on Michelle.
As I exit the elevator, I hear a scream. A woman stands in the middle of the hallway and points at the floor. She shrieks again and backs up slowly. I jog toward her and see a bloody trail coming out of Michelle’s room. At the end of the trail sits a huge, bloated leech.
“It’s nothing,” I say. “Leech therapy.”
The woman stares at me, horrified, her hands over her mouth. I push open Michelle’s door and find her lying in bed, sound asleep, the rest of the leeches locked up in a jar somewhere.
Movie stars. Pop icons.
In the parking lot, still in his scrubs, Romeo leans against my rented Ford Escort. “I couldn’t let you go without saying goodbye.”
“I was going to find you, too. Thank you for everything.”
“You got to see pretty much my whole bag of tricks. And I’m serious. Come back.”
“I’d like that. Hey, I have something for you.” I pop open the back of the Escort, reach in, and hand him a gift-wrapped box. “A little token of my thanks.”
“Get outta town. What did you do?”
Like a kid at Christmas, he rips off the wrapping paper and flings off the cover of the box. He stares inside. His eyes begin to water. He shakes his head and pulls out my present.
A lamp shaped like a naked woman.
He bites his lip. “She’s beautiful.”
“The nipples flash the SOS distress signal.”
He throws his arms around me, locks me in a bear hug. “You feel me.”
“I feel you,” I say, crushed in his embrace.
To read Part One Of Beverly Hills Bloodsuckers, click HERE.
To read Part Two of Beverly Hills Bloodsuckers, click HERE.
To order IN STITCHES, please click the Amazon.com link below:
Saturday, July 2nd, 2011
Third elective. Day one.
I stand outside the office of Romeo Bouley, MD, in Beverly Hills. I gape at the stained-glass windows in the burnished oak doors. I rub the stained glass lightly, shake my head, and step into the waiting room— leather couches, modern art, an Oriental rug, and twenty more naked lady lamps. The receptionist, a former or potential centerfold, directs me to Romeo’s office down the hall. An Oriental runner leads me to him. On the way, I pass framed covers of magazines that have featured Romeo—People, Us Weekly, Playboy, Penthouse, and a shocker, The Saturday Evening Post.
I knock at his door frame; the door is open. He beckons me in, waves me to an armchair.
His office? Leather, leather, leather, naked-lady lamps.
“You meet Heather?”
“The receptionist? She’s very nice.”
“Unbelievable, right? I did them. And no, I never did her. You cannot date your staff, either. That’s another rule.”
“For me, it’s not an issue. I have a girlfriend—”
“Okay, listen. Lesson number one.” He jabs a button on his desk. Behind me, the door whirs, rattles, and closes with a thwack. “Plastic surgery is like dating.” He pauses to let this sink in. “Patient comes in for a consultation. Your first date. You make small talk, feel each other out, see if you’re compatible. You have to look good, Youner. You look like crap, sloppy, whatever, she’s outta there. She comes in because she wants to look good. How you look matters. Dig?”
“Yes.” I sneak a look at what I’m wearing. White shirt, cords. I shaved. Showered. Applied deodorant. Combed my hair. Slapped on cologne. I think I’m all right.
He sees me checking myself out. “You pass. Now. While she’s feeling you out on this first date, you’re feeling her out, too. Main thing we’re looking for is crazy. We want to avoid crazy. We see crazy, we run like hell. You know BDD?”
He whams back in his chair, links his hands behind his spectacular snowy-beach hairdo. “Body dysmorphic disorder. Affects about one percent of the population, about five percent of plastic-surgery patients. In Beverly Hills, ten percent, easy. Maybe twenty. Gum?”
He unwraps three sticks, pops them all in his mouth. He chews like a ballplayer, cheek puffed out as if working on a chaw. “This is a condition where a person looks in the mirror and sees something that doesn’t exist. Or sees a distortion of the truth. You look in a mirror, you see a tiny bump on your nose. Mosquito bite, say. A person with BDD sees that same mosquito bite, and to her, it’s the size of a big fleshy peach. I’m serious.”
He chews violently for three more seconds, tears off a page from a prescription pad, spits the wad of gum into it. “Plastic-surgery patients with BDD see themselves as ugly and deformed. Doesn’t matter how great the surgery turns out or how many times you perform a surgery to correct the first one, which they see as botched. In real life, they may look like Heather, but they look in the mirror and think they look like crap. And they blame you.”
“A nightmare,” Romeo says. “You can’t always catch it, but you try. We get sued more than anyone. My lawyer loves me. Sends me on a cruise twice a year. Anyway, back to dating.”
He taps out three more sticks of gum, unwraps them, jams them into his mouth. I’ve known Romeo Bouley, MD, for under a day, but based on his naked-lady lamp collection, the fact that he lives in the middle of Antiques Roadshow, the way he compares plastic-surgery consultations to dating, and how he chews a pack of gum every five minutes, I’m calling this guy quirky.
“So, okay, the consultation goes well, you agree to see each other again. Now we’re talking Botox, collagen, that kind of thing. First base. That goes well, you move to second base. Lipo. Then you swing for the fences.”
“Bingo. Start with a good-night kiss. Botox. Next you make out. Lipo. Then you do the deed. Boob job.” He rips off another page from the prescription pad, wads up his gum. “I feel you, kid. You got a future.”
Days two through twenty-nine.
A guy could get used to this.
Five, six, seven, a dozen gorgeous women a day. Professional women who act, pose, escort, strip, and screw for a living, all talented enough to appear on the cover of Maxim or in the pages of Playboy. The startling part is that if I’d ever met one of them in college, I’d have stammered, blanched, and launched into a monologue about my mother’s cooking. Now, wearing a white coat in Dr. Romeo Bouley’s office—even though I always identify myself as a medical student—I’m treated like another doctor. These women share with me their fear of surgery, explain why it’s a curse having a beautiful face and gorgeous breasts, even confess their most intimate problems with husbands, boyfriends, parents. I listen sympathetically, and when they ask for my assurance—they always do—I promise I’ll be right there with them throughout their procedure. Many grip my hand with heartfelt thanks. At times I feel like Romeo Junior.
“I tell you more than I tell anyone,” a porn star, a favorite of Tim’s, coos to me as Romeo begins her post-rhinoplasty follow-up visit. She has asked him to make her look more elegant, less trashy. She hopes to transition into mainstream acting at some point, which, from what I’ve seen, would be a blow to the porn industry.
“Everything looks good,” Romeo says. “Healing nicely.”
“I have a photo shoot tomorrow. Is that okay?”
“It’s fine. You don’t have to miss work.”
“Can I hang from the ceiling by my wrists and ankles?”
“Just make sure they don’t touch your nose.”
“Can they put a cue ball in my mouth?”
I cough, mutter, “Warm in here.”
More to come.
To read Part I of ” Beverly Hills Bloodsuckers,” click here.
To read more of my plastic surgeon tell-all IN STITCHES, click the link below!
Friday, June 17th, 2011
This week I had the privilege of being interviewed by Michel Martin on NPR’s Tell Me More. We discussed a multitude of topics related to IN STITCHES, including growing up Asian American, plastic surgery, the hidden motivations behind becoming a physician, and the Doctor-God complex.
Thank you to NPR’s Tell Me More and Michel Martin for having me on your fine show!