Plastic Surgeons Salute 'Baywatch'

Nowadays, you can even watch plastic surgery live on the Internet on sites like, where comedian John Byner's May 1999 face-lift was broadcast into cyberspace.

Dr. Richard Ellenbogen of Los Angeles, who describes himself as "the father of fat transplant surgery," performed the honors on Byner. "We are going public in these events to demystify the process," he said. "It's a new day."

"Celebrity has always been important to the cosmetic surgery business," Ellenbogen said. "When Betty Ford had a face-lift, so many other people who never thought of doing it changed their mind.

"Baywatch just took it to a whole new level because the show was so up-front about emphasizing a certain kind of physical perfection."

Ellenbogen pointed out that Baywatch's success came at a time when cosmetic surgeons were making advances that made it faster and safer for folks to get nips and tucks. "Whenever I consult a patient who wants a breast augmentation, I get the great California questions: 'When can I drive my car?' and 'When can I work out again?'"

It used to take weeks for recovery. "Now, I tell them they can drive in three days and work out in two weeks," he said. "There just isn't the inconvenience there once was."

The Gift of Lifts

Folks shopping for plastic surgery in the post-Baywatch era will find a new marketplace, where doctors are working at a pace reminiscent of a McDonald's kitchen. Dr. Leonard Roudner of Florida told The Associated Press he averages five breast jobs a day and is widely known as "Dr. Boobner" for his steady business. His office says he's booked solid for the next few months.

And some men think nothing says "I love you" better than a gift of saline breast implants.

"Over the years, I've had a steady stream of boyfriends and husbands coming into the office to purchase a breast implant procedure for their spouse or girlfriend for Valentine's Day," said Dr. Franklin Rose of Houston.

"This year looks to be an especially busy year," Rose added. "It's been a cold, rainy winter and I think people are looking forward to putting on a swimsuit and heading to the beach."

Rose, who has performed more than 4,000 silicone and saline-gel breast implant procedures, says it's almost always the women who suggest the gift. But it's a delicate matter. If a guy brings up the subject at the wrong moment, his sweetie may end up performing ad-hoc surgery on his face.

Still, other women may be grateful to have the subject on the table. "For many women, breast implants are something they secretly want but they're just too embarrassed to take the plunge and get them," Rose said. "In many cases, it's the fulfillment of a lifelong dream."

Were these ladies traumatized by the site of perfect bods on Baywatch? Rose says women were bombarded with bodacious body images long before Baywatch hit it big. The show, however, did have an undeniable impact.

"The big breasts, small hips, perfect buttocks look goes back to Barbie and before," he said. "Baywatch was a part of that, however. A big part."

Buck Wolf is a producer at The Wolf Files is a weekly feature. If you want to receive weekly notice when a new column is published, join the e-mail list.

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