Facelifts, tummy tucks, nose jobs, breast reductions, testicular implants and cosmetic dentistry — it sounds like the line-up for an extreme-makeover reality TV show. Well, get ready for a fresh dose of reality: those going under the knife to be nipped and tucked are not people but pets.
“Pets are no longer considered property, but family members,” says Dr. Alan Schulman, a board-certified orthopedic veterinary surgeon who performs plastic surgery and also sees general practice cases at the Animal Medical Center of Southern California in Los Angeles. “With the evolution of this emotional bond, people with a discretionary income are taking advantage of technology and veterinary expertise to give their animals medically indicated reconstructive surgery resulting in a better quality of life.”
But are these procedures really medically necessary or are pets undergoing surgery simply to appease their owners’ vanity? Dubbed in Hollywood as the “Veterinarian to the Stars,” Schulman sees many pets belonging to celebrities and says he gets his fair share of requests to perform unnecessary cosmetic procedures.
“I gently explain that unless there is a real medical reason for me to do some touch-up work, I won’t recommend it or proceed,” says Schulman. Liposuction for pets is not an option, he adds.
There are, however, many bona fide medical instances, especially among certain dog breeds, that necessitate reconstructive procedures that amount to an eyelift, full facelift, rhinoplasty or abdominoplasty. The costs are about $1,000 per procedure and the pet is usually hospitalized overnight in order to be properly monitored after anesthesia.
The most common concerns are skin-fold problems, particularly around the eyes, lips, tail and vaginal area.