South Florida couples looking for quality bonding time aren’t just grabbing dinner or taking moonlit walks on the beach anymore.
These days, many are walking hand in hand into a cosmetic surgery office, ordering joint Botox, liposuction, even facelifts and body-contouring procedures. Though more extensive operations are performed days or weeks apart for safety and convenience, a number of couples are opting to have minimally invasive injections done in the same appointment.
Dr. Paul Wigoda, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Fort Lauderdale, has couples asking “all the time” for wrinkle-smoothing injections and other procedures.
“It’s not very painful — less painful than a massage — so they come to be supportive of each other and give each other feedback about how they look,” Wigoda said. “And it’s not just straight couples, but gay couples, too, especially gay men.”
And they’re not just signing up for injections.
Felix Fidelibus, 57, an Oakland Park financial executive, and his partner of 16 years went to Wigoda for the same procedure: to fix a prior surgeon’s botched attempt to remove excess male breast tissue, a condition known as gynecomastia.
Both men disliked the way the failed procedures made them look and feel, so they decided to go in for a repair together, to support each other through the process. Though they went in at the same time for their evaluation and pre-op consultation appointments, Wigoda did their surgeries two weeks apart, so each could drive the other to and from the outpatient operation and be there during the more difficult first days of recovery.
But Fidelibus said it was important for them to have the procedures timed as closely as possible.
“It’s like going on vacation together, only you’re not going on vacation, you’re recuperating together,” Fidelibus said. “It was the best thing, because you’re going through the same thing together. It’s a good feeling knowing you’re taking care of each other at the same time.”
Board-certified cosmetic surgeon Dr. Yan Trokel said, in the past two years, his Weston office has had an average of five to eight couples a month coming for joint procedures.
“When I was looking back at the numbers, they keep going up and up” over time, he said, attributing the rising trend to society’s growing acceptance of plastic surgery as a viable aesthetic option. “As these procedures have become more and more accepted, people are beginning to incorporate them into their daily lives.”
The couples procedures appear to be especially popular in image-conscious South Florida.
When he worked in Cleveland, Ohio, board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Shashi Kusuma said it wasn’t as common for couples to make joint appointments. But in the three years since he moved to Plantation, “it’s a fairly regular occurrence,” he said.
In Kusuma’s practice, couples seeking information on similar procedures are typically in their 50s and 60s, an age when “they’re comfortable coming in together,” he said. “They’ve been together a long time, they can talk about it openly, and they’ve already accepted each other the way they are.”
And, he said, it’s often the wife leading the more reluctant husband along, whether it’s for facial fillers or more invasive procedures on the eyes or neck.
Dr. Jorge Perez, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Fort Lauderdale, agreed.
“Usually the woman goes first since most men are cowards when it comes to surgery,” Perez said. “Once the men see that the experience was not bad and the improvement is so nice, they usually follow.”
But Kusuma, like the other doctors, warned that despite the casual sound of couples seeking togetherness at the hands of a cosmetic surgeon, “plastic surgery is serious business.”
“You can’t trivialize plastic surgery like it’s a shopping experience,” he said, emphasizing that patients — whether they’re alone or coming in as couples — must be careful about choosing doctors with the right experience, education and qualifications.
People also shouldn’t take the “togetherness” concept too literally, Perez said.
“The only thing that is not proper is to have surgery in the same room,” he said. “The operating room is a solo act for patients. We have no bunk beds.”