Ask Dr. Phil: Amanda and Angel

Plastic Surgery Aspirations
"When I first realized I wanted to get plastic surgery, I was in eighth grade," says Amanda, 18. "When I look in the mirror, I'm really disgusted. My legs are definitely too big for how short I am. The same with my hips. Plastic surgery is the only thing that's going to make me happy. I want to get liposuction of my legs and my thighs. I would like to have my chin liposuctioned, my cheeks, the back of my legs, my love handles … I would get my lips injected. I would like to have my breasts bigger. Jessica Simpson, her stomach is really toned, and I think that's how I should be. Jessica Alba, her lips, they're really full. She's flawless. When I was in eighth grade, I weighed 101 pounds. I now weigh almost 120, and I would kill to be 101 again."

"My little sister seems to have no reservations at all about any of these surgeries," says Angel, 29. "I think Amanda could get addicted to plastic surgery. I do believe Amanda is too young. She's actually getting an unrealistic expectation of what she thinks she should look like."

"Now that I'm 18, I think she's a little more afraid that I might actually be getting it done," Amanda says of her sister.

Angel grows emotional as she says, "She just doesn't see herself as beautiful on the outside because she's not happy with who she is on the inside."

Amanda is considering dropping out of college to save money for her future surgeries. "The nightmare stories about plastic surgery, they definitely don't change my mind," she says. "I'd rather something go wrong than stay looking how I look."

After seeing her story on video, Amanda weeps.

Dr. Phil says, "Tell me why you're emotional right now."

"I'm just not happy with how I look. All my flaws were shown," she says through her tears. "Like, my legs, underneath my chin, I have a scar on my lip, and just everything that I think I need."

"And you disagree?" Dr. Phil asks her sister.

"I totally disagree, entirely," Angel says. "I try to tell her she's beautiful, ‘You don't need any of these surgeries.' She wants her hips done. Her legs she thinks are so big that she absolutely refuses to wear shorts. Until just two years ago, she wouldn't even wear the knee pants. She didn't want her legs showing at all." 

"You say you've never been satisfied with yourself, and you say if you did all this, that your self-esteem would be better, you'd feel better, you'd have a better attitude about yourself," Dr. Phil says to Amanda. "You can think of 10 surgeries you'd like to have. On your absolute wish list, what would you change?"

"I would have my lips injected, my breasts, my inner and my outer thighs, my lower abdomen, my sides, the back of my legs," she says.

"It just really wouldn't even be you if we just changed everything, right?" Dr. Phil asks.

"I'd be smaller," she says. When asked about her hair, eyes and nose, Amanda says she likes them, although she'd have the tip of her nose changed. "I just want to be smaller. I want to be more petite. I feel like that's how I should look and with the plastic surgeries, I would definitely " "

"How do you decide how you ‘should' look? How do you know?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Just how I see myself and how I see my body could be," Amanda answers.

"You mentioned Jessica Alba and Jessica Simpson. Maybe you could just change your name to Jessica," Dr. Phil jokes, and she laughs. "Do you know they don't really look like that? They're beautiful girls, no question about it, but when you see someone on a billboard or on a magazine cover or whatever, let me tell you, there's lighting and makeup and tape. I mean, you can't imagine. Do you realize there's a lot of magic that goes into that?" he asks.

"Yeah, I do," she says

"And Photoshopping, and air-brushing and all sorts of things like that," Dr. Phil continues. He turns to Angel. "You've had plastic surgery, right? So you've kind of set the tone."

"I guess. I didn't think that at first," Angel says. She explains that she had breast augmentation after having a child, and rhinoplasty while doctors were correcting a medical problem with her nose.

Dr. Phil introduces Dr. Drew Ordon, a certified plastic surgeon and one of the hosts of the upcoming show, The Doctors, airing in the fall. "You had talked about, when you go through a lot of your training, a lot of your certification, that there's a lot of emphasis on patient selection," Dr. Phil says. "What are the kinds of things you look at as a surgeon?"

"Are they realistic? Do they truly have significant deformities that can be corrected? And are they paying too much attention to a relatively minor fault?" Dr. Ordon explains.

"And that's an issue because they're likely to not be satisfied if there's a really high unrealistic expectation?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Right, and you're aware of the condition Body Dysmorphic Syndrome," Dr. Ordon says. "We see more and more of that. People have all of these issues that they're concerned about, and they're really not that big of deformities, and yet they obsess on it and spend many hours a day thinking about it."

"And you think about this a lot, don't you?" Dr. Phil asks Amanda.

She nods.

Dr. Phil explains that plastic surgeons used to refer patients to him to evaluate whether or not they made good candidates for surgery. "How do you think I would report back to a surgeon about you if I evaluated you as a candidate for plastic surgery?" he asks Amanda.

"I think I'd be fine, because I don't like all the things, and I think that's where I'm mainly unhappy," she says.

"I'm going to tell you what I would think if you presented in my office: I would tell you that I think you're a very intelligent young woman. You have a sense of clarity about many things. You're articulate, obviously educated and intelligent, but in no way, no how, under any circumstance would I recommend you as a candidate for plastic surgery. Just absolutely zip, zero, nada. It would not happen," Dr. Phil says. "You're looking through a distorted filter, and the filter won't go away with the surgery. You're likely to find fault with the surgery. I would not recommend a surgeon to operate on you because I think you're doing this for the wrong reasons. If you think this is going to fix your self-esteem, that is the wrong reason to do this. You've got to fix your self-esteem. You've got to get happy with who you are. You've got to accept yourself, flaws, fallacies and all. Once that's done, then you might say, ‘OK, I do think my clothes would look better, or I would like to do this or that.' There would be a right reason to do it, but you're not there. You're doing this for the wrong reasons, and you're looking at yourself through a very distorted filter. So the report I would send back to the surgeon would be ‘No way, no how.'" Dr. Phil turns to Dr. Ordon. "What would you think?"

"I agree. My problem with her is that she's disproportionately unhappy for how good she looks, and that raises a red flag for me," Dr. Ordon says.

Dr. Phil tells Amanda, "You're not looking at this realistically. There are risks involved in this. Even if it's done well, there are scars, and they are permanent, and there are risks. I mean, there's risk of infection. There are all kinds of problems, and you don't want to fix what ain't broke." He tells her he's also against her quitting college to save for her surgeries. "It's just not right, and I'm going to ask you to take a look at yourself psychologically, self-esteem-wise, self-perception-wise before you do the surgery, and I will help you to do that. I will find somebody who will talk to you about your self-esteem issues and how you feel and how you see yourself. I'll make those resources available to you if you would agree with me that you would do that before you make the decision to do the surgery."

"I will," she says, wiping a tear away.

"Trust me, you're not ready to do this. You're really not. I know you think you are, but you're really not," Dr. Phil says.

"I feel like I need it," she says.

"All of us think you're just as cute as a speckled pup," he says.