What does mommy tell her toddler when she comes home from the plastic surgeon with a new nose?
Not another lie, like the one about the stork bringing baby home, urges Dr. Michael Salzhauer, a Bal Harbour plastic surgeon and author of My Beautiful Mommy (Big Tent, $19.95). The book is aimed at helping 4- to 7-year-olds understand plastic surgery and the recovery period, which can be marked by bandages and bruises.
"Most kids associate trips to a doctor's office with pain or sickness ... so I wrote this children's book,'' Salzhauer says.
The doctor has been acquainted with children for a while. He has four, ages 2 through 8, and a fifth due in September, so he's been reading "a lot of children's books,'' he says, laughing.
Of the 200 surgeries he performs annually, most are to undo "the ravages of pregnancy,'' he says. "The skin is stretched and not going to go away and after the milk lets down the breasts sag and that won't go away with diet and exercise.''
"Most of my patients are young moms who come in for tummy tucks, breast lifts and rhinoplasties. ... As these operations have become more popular, many parents are bringing their children to the consultations.''
So much so, he says, his waiting room can look like a toy store. "I stock up on lollipops and candy.''
But not everyone is lining up to support My Beautiful Mommy, considering that proper iet and regular exercise can help women lose the weight gained in pregnancy. Jessica Valenti, editor of the website feministing.com, and Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Research Center for Women and Families, have both spoken out against the book nationally, citing its "disturbing'' perpetuating of unrealistic images of beauty. The image of the midriff-bearing mother with the tiny waist on the book cover could be patterned after Desperate Housewives' Eva Longoria.
Salzhauer defends his book by noting that there are no anatomical pictures or graphic details about the surgery. "The idea is for patients to read it before the consultation so that the child will know what to expect and can ask questions.''