The plastic surgeon helping Jews love their noses

Dr Terry Dubrow, star of TV show Botched, says his experience of correcting mistakes always proves emotional for him and his patients


Terry Dubrow finds his work “ridiculously rewarding”.

The LA-based plastic surgeon, who famously rectifies procedures that have gone drastically wrong, takes on cases that everyone else has written off as impossible, changing the lives of the people on his operating table.

His patients, who frequently come to the Jewish doctor in despair, are sometimes left “almost speechless” by his work. “They say, ‘You have given me my life back,’” he says proudly.

That is not to say that Dubrow takes a gung-ho approach to wielding his scalpel. Far from it.

“You say to yourself, ‘If everybody else is passing on this, and I take them to the operating room and it fails and makes it worse, should I have respected the previous surgeons and their judgment?’ So it’s very scary at first.”

His process, and the results of his work and that of fellow surgeon Paul Nassif, are documented in the TV series Botched, which is now in its eighth season.

The experience of correcting mistakes always proves emotional for Dubrow and his patients.

He adds: “We take on the most impossible cases [and] we fix them. Of all the things I’ve done in my 27-year career, this surgery is the most rewarding.”

Dubrow takes seriously his patients’ decision to undergo cosmetic surgery and counsels clients in advance to guide them to make decisions that they will not later regret.

That possibility can be especially important to consider when it comes to Jewish patients who are grappling over whether to embrace or alter their “ethnic” nose.

Debate around the so-called “Jewish” nose — and whether or not such a feature can actually be said to exist — has been reignited in recent weeks among Jews and Gentiles alike after director and actor Bradley Cooper used a prosthetic one to portray the late Jewish conductor Leonard Bernstein in his Netflix biopic Maestro.

When Jewish patients come to Dubrow’s surgery asking about rhinoplasty, he will ask what specifically bothers them about their nose, how their family members look, whether any of them have had the surgery and, if so, if they have regretted it.

“You educate them on the issues, then you send them away and they sleep on it. That’s why in plastic surgery you never meet a patient and operate on the same day,” Dubrow says.

Crucially, Dubrow also makes potential clients aware of the general move away from giving patients the tiny, ski-slope noses popular in decades past, and suggesting less dramatic adjustments.

“There’s now been a move towards taking the main thing that’s most bothersome to the individual and reducing it without removing it,” he says.

He advises those determined to go ahead to “be a little more subtle about it [and to] dial back the changes to retain your family’s look, your ethnicity”. The counselling is a vital part of the process given the number of people who have expressed regret about the major changes they have asked, or allowed, surgeons to perform.

For some people, there is a real sense of sadness and disappointment that they had such “severe” changes made to their faces, Dubrow says.

Over the course of his career, the doctor has observed cosmetic surgery spiralling out of control, driven by society’s obsession with youthful looks and social media. He’s noticed that patients are getting younger. “I don’t love that,” he explains.

“People having lip filler at 19 and breast augmentation before they’re fully developed, at 17 [or] 18, is bad. And there [has been] an increase in that.”

He also points to individuals who end up having excessive amounts of plastic surgery. They take it “way too far and do it way too often”.

These patients can display symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder and need to “put the brakes on”, Dubrow believes. Unlike some other TV programmes about cosmetic surgery, Botched offers more than a voyeuristic glimpse into other people’s mishaps and insecurities; it warns potential candidates of the risks that come with the procedures they are considering.

One of the consequences of plastic surgery, moving on from being taboo in years past to relatively commonplace and accepted today, is that people can forget that these are serious medical procedures. Like all surgeries, they come with risks.

“Botched makes people think twice,” says Dubrow. “[It makes them ask] ‘Is it worth it? Do I really want to take these risks?’ It’s a cautionary tale.”

Be wary, too, of signing up to have the latest “miracle” procedures that haven’t yet been fully tested, whether it is a new injectable or a lip lift, Dubrow warns.

“Don’t be the first in line to have a new procedure because it may take several years before we figure out [the] side effects and complications.”

Dubrow, who describes himself as “super culturally Jewish” and is a synagogue member, says he endeavours in his role as a doctor to embrace the Jewish values of kindness, respect, honesty and working hard.

“To be a Jewish doctor is not only my mother’s dream. I think it’s every Jew’s dream in a way, to be able to help people so dramatically,” he says.

“It’s just a really wonderful thing.”

Season 8 of Botched is available to watch now on Hayu

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