“PERCEPTION DRIFT” OR THE PHENOMENON OF THE NEW “ZERO LINE” – THE DANGER OF LOSING THE NATURAL VIEW OF ONESELF.
Many of us know it, the feeling of no longer being one hundred percent satisfied with ourselves. Be it one or two kilos too much on the scale, one or two wrinkles on the face, but also simply the feeling of not looking as fresh as you did a few years ago.
Or maybe it’s something that’s been bothering you for a long time, like a chest that’s too big or too small, a bump on your nose, lips that are too thin or unattractively shaped, or simply a disproportionate distribution of the small pads on your body. Society has been giving us beauty ideals for centuries.
For example, in the 1920s, after World War I, it was the so-called “flappers,” thin, boyish women with flattened breasts and short haircuts, who were considered the absolute ideal of beauty.
In the 30’s to 50’s it was the so-called “hourglass” figure with large breasts and a soft, large butt, which made men’s hearts beat faster, Marylin Monroe and Doris Day made it before – the kilos got a new meaning.
After that, the most diverse beauty ideals alternated every few years.
From sporty sexy, to boyishly skinny, to chubby and feminine, the most diverse ideals shaped our society and especially the ideal image of women.
But what connects all eras is one fact, which remained until today, namely that every woman simply wants to be beautiful for herself.
Every woman wants to look in the mirror and be able to say about herself: I am beautiful.
To feel the magic of one’s own beauty and to be satisfied in harmony with oneself depends on several circumstances. On the one hand, it is the years that one’s precious body carries one through life, on the other hand, it is changes that a woman goes through in the course of her life. The environment, living conditions, nutrition, as well as care and much more, play a very important role. Nowadays we have many possibilities to give nature and our own beauty a little push, so that it helps us to regain a perhaps somewhat lost freshness and naturalness. And this is exactly where a tightrope walk begins, a journey that a patient will walk together with his doctor. A doctor, from the moment a patient comes to him with his concern, is responsible for showing the patient ways to support and regain his natural freshness and beauty, but also an important advisor for the patient to tell him to stop in time.
Patients come to a doctor with their problem and concern, hoping to leave feeling better and with a boost in self-confidence. However, it is not that simple. The challenge for every plastic surgeon is to meet the patient’s wishes and hopes, but not to leave the realm of the naturally beautiful and, above all, the feasible.
My wife Dr. Katrin Bartsch and I have made this our goal after thousands of treatments and operations. We want to have happy and naturally beautiful patients who trust us and are always happy to come back to us because they feel well advised and in good hands. But what is the phenomenon of the “new zero line”, the PERCEPTION DRIFT?
Let’s take a woman in her mid-40s as an example.
She comes to a doctor she trusts and shows him a photo of when she was 20. She would like to look like that again. Now it is up to the attending physician to explain to his patient that no doctor in the world can make a person look 20 years younger. The body changes, the skin, the tissue, the expression.
Life shapes people in these years and as a doctor you should never promise that you could turn back all these years to look the same as 20 years ago. You have to explain to the patient that a doctor has many but also limited options and that he will not treat beyond natural limits just because a patient wants it. The so-called PERCEPTION DRIFT happens insidiously.
A patient comes in and wants treatment, for example with Botox and fillers. The doctor places the fillers where they have a rejuvenating and refreshing effect and also injects the Botox in the right places to make the skin look fresher. It often happens that the patient comes back after a few weeks and says it looks great, maybe we could inject a little more in one or the other place. Sometimes this also happens when I, as a doctor, feel it makes sense.
But basically, people get used to the new appearance.
The patient thinks after a few weeks that she really looks a lot better and if she gets more treatments now, that it will make her a lot happier. The new “zero line” has reached the brain. The eye gets used to the new fresher and more beautiful appearance and the patient now wants to look even fresher and even more beautiful. But now it is the doctor’s responsibility to say “STOP”. Patients come in with photos that are a few weeks old and think that the injections have already receded. However, as a doctor, you should show them the photo when they had no treatments.
But when is “enough is enough”?
It is enough when the doctor himself can see a better appearance of the skin and a fresher look, but especially when he sees that the patient is happy and satisfied.
Many doctors overstep these boundaries because they can make a lot of extra money doing so, only then what is called PERCEPTION DRIFT happens. Patients look overtreated and “oversprayed”, The face no longer has natural proportions and this is noticed not only by the doctor, but also by all other people in everyday life, as well as in the patient’s profession. The new “zero line” is always set higher, because the patient loses the natural look for herself.
I see myself as a doctor also as a ” guardian” for my patients, I want to know their personality and prevent them from crossing this zero line. We have made it our primary goal in our office to fulfill the wishes of our patients as much as possible, so that the patients are happy and satisfied after the treatments.
Our goal is to preserve and revive the natural beauty and inner fresh magic, and to keep telling patients that they are most beautiful when they look fresher after the treatments than before, but still look like themselves.
PATIENT EXPERIENCE REPORT:
I came to Dr. Bartsch’s office several years ago because I was bothered by my deep wrinkles and because my upper lip was too thin. Pregnancy, a bad breakup and life as a single parent added the rest.
Dr. Bartsch suggested some treatments, which were then supported with Botox and fillers. I came to his office with the goal of simply wanting to look fresher again and reduce wrinkles.
But what happened next I could hardly believe myself. The skin treatments, fillers and Botox made my skin look like it did 10 years ago, it was rosy, I had volume in my face again, 90% of my wrinkles disappeared and I was just happy. But after about 5 weeks I was back in the office again, because I myself was convinced that everything was slowly disappearing again. I felt that the freshness and fullness were there, but that a little more could be injected here and there. In some places Dr. Bartsch injected a little more and said it was ok for him because it was still within the range of natural.
I was very satisfied. But if it had not happened to me myself, I would not believe it now. After only about 3 weeks, I was back in the office and asked if he could inject a little here and there. That was when Dr. Bartsch sat down and said: “You are beautiful. Look, I’ll show you the photo when you came to us before all the treatments.
He opened the photo on the screen and held a mirror in front of my face. At that moment I realized what had happened. I had forgotten how I looked half a year ago, how happy I was now and all the wonderful things that were happening to my skin. I was even a little embarrassed, but I was just infinitely grateful to Dr. Bartsch. Grateful that he said STOP, that he told me “you are beautiful as you are now”.
I also found myself beautiful, but as it was already described in the report, I had an inner urge to make that beautiful even more beautiful. However, it was only because of Dr. Bartsch’s honesty that I was saved from becoming a “Botox face” as known from Hollywood.
I will be grateful to Dr. Bartsch for the rest of my life for having made me so happy and for having advised me so well, but above all for knowing that I am always in good hands with him and that I will not lose my natural beauty through the treatments.