Plastic surgery used to be a dirty little secret that only existed for the rich and famous. Those days are long gone as everything from Botox to liposuction is available to anyone that can manage to get an appointment at a doctor's busy office or spa. One such spa, Changes, located in La Jolla, California, is the focus of the new reality show on the Oxygen network, "Addicted to Beauty." During a recent press call, Natasha, the Executive Assistant at Changes, and Executive Producers Mike Duffy and Kevin Dill shared how the world of plastic surgery surprised even them once the cameras started to roll.
While plastic surgery may be a popular part of life in big cities like Los Angeles and New York City, how do the producers think "Addicted to Beauty" will play in the Midwest and smaller communities? "I think the issues we saw in the spa with the patients that came in and even the people working at the spa, the issues they are facing are universal," said Dill. "Someone in Iowa as well as LA or in San Diego. So it's all the same." Duffy agreed and added, "I think that the people in Middle America... look to the coast for cues on fashion and style and the overall look. I think that what's represented on 'Addicted to Beauty' which really does represent to some extreme what the coasts are sort of offering to the rest of the country for good or for bad."
While Natasha is used to a frenetic atmosphere in her Executive Assistant position, having cameras film her every move wasn't as jarring as she initially thought they would be. "The first day was definitely the hardest day but after that first day was over you just resumed your day-to-day work. I forgot that they were there and I just did my work and it wasn't really that difficult, you know, because we were working."
While much of "Addicted to Beauty" cast zeroes in on the colorful, often-tense relationships between the employees of Changes, the calm in the middle of the storm is plastic surgeon Dr. Lee. Dill said he was fascinated with "Dr. Lee and how cool and calm he is under the face of doing surgery. The guy's kind of Zen master... he was very calm and placid in surgery. And he just became someone that you literally wanted to put your life in his hands because he was so sure of himself. So I found it very fascinating how he could really under pressure come through."
Duffy went on to explain that he actually felt a great deal of pressure and tension when he first met the CEO of Changes. "When you walk in you immediately are being judged and assessed for your looks. So, for instance, when I first met Dianne, I noticed that her eyes were darting all across my face trying to figure out what parts of me she could change. And that was a big change for me because when you're just a regular old guy from back East or just never been in a plastic surgery center before, to walk in and have somebody pick your face apart and your body is it can go one of two directions, right.
"Addicted to Beauty" also shows that there is no one type that takes advantage of plastic surgery. "Everybody can improve in some way," Duffy explained, "and what we learned on this show is that guys or girls, old or young... there's always something you can do and it doesn't have to be so invasive. You know, it doesn't have to be surgery. It can be an injectable or it could be, you know, a topical treatment.
While the producers found the world of plastic surgery new territory, Natasha, who has worked in the field for five years, has been a plastic surgery patient only once... for now. "I've only had one procedure done and so I don't feel a lot of pressure. I think if you also have a very high self-esteem and you're secure; but when I start seeing the signs of aging, I will definitely jump on the bandwagon." As the show's title states, plastic surgery procedures can easily become addictive, according to the 26-year old Changes employee. "We do get some clients that start with an injectable and they do that as a maintenance and then they realize well, 'You know what, I should maybe pull a little bit more here or tuck a little bit more here.'"
Dill said one particular patient surprised him not only because of the physical changes she went through during her plastic surgery procedure. "We did a whole 'mommy makeover,' which was a tummy tuck and augmentation. And what I found fascinating about it is the change from the lady who had the procedure from the beginning to the end. She became more empowered and you saw her become more self-confident. She really wanted to make this change about herself. And I saw her come in one lady and leave kind of more confident and proud and left, you know, the show and the spa a different lady. And that was good to see."
Asked if the struggling economy has an impact on the amount of plastic surgery business and Natasha said, "The economy has definitely affected, you know, all businesses. But if you can't afford now to get the facelift, you're going in, you're doing the injectables. And we have a lot of laser treatments that can treat skin problems. Or, if you can't afford the laser, we have incredible facials."
There are also many things to learn about plastic surgery in "Addicted To Beauty," according to Duffy. "I didn't know that you could take fat out of a part of your body, for instance your butt, and inject it into your face," he said. "That was a big one for me... I thought plastic surgery was all sort of foreign objects and injectables and serums and things like that. I didn't realize that you can take parts of your own anatomy and place them into other parts of your anatomy and plump them up." Dill also shared something he learned when he said "I didn't know that much about plastic surgery when I came in but... I think I learned a lot about the Restylane and things like that and a lot of the injectables and that they seem to be really popular kind of as a quote maintenance procedure. And kind of in a downturn and a recession, if you can't get the facelift, you can get the injectable at a fair price."
One other popular show that invites inevitable comparisons to is the FX long-running series "Nip/Tuck." Dill, however, believes audiences will respond to "Addicted to Beauty" for one thing they don't get from the FX show. "It's more relatable, I think. You know, Natasha and the cast and everybody, they went through ups and downs that any workplace goes through. Not just in a heightened environment like the 'Nip/Tuck' scripted world. So I think it's a much more relatable show than 'Nip/Tuck' to the average person."
Duffy and Dill both said that the Oxygen audience was the perfect one for a show like "Addicted to Beauty" and that was always a part of their plan when creating the show. "We did target Oxygen," Dill said. "I think it's safe to say that when we found this cast that it was obviously an Oxygen cast." Duffy added, "We are so happy that Oxygen saw it as a perfect show for them. And, you know, when we pitched the show, we put together a sales reel and it just seemed to resonate throughout the network. And the network has evolved through the live out loud credo, you know, the show really has become I think the perfect example of living out loud."
"Addicted to Beauty" moves to its regular Tuesday, 10:00/9:00c time period tonight on Oxygen.