You may have heard about the infamous Golden Heart surgery, in which Hollywood heartthrob Robert Pattinson had to have part of his heart replaced. Or maybe not. It was originally thought to be a heart attack, but subsequent investigations revealed that it was due to an abnormal heart rhythm. The procedure, which involves the surgical placement of a pacemaker in the chest, was prompted by a cardiac arrhythmia that the actor was experiencing, which the surgeons were unable to locate. The arrhythmia was caused by mitral regurgitation, or “mild mitral valve prolapse,” as the medical professionals put it.
While the exact cause of the Golden Heart syndrome remains unknown, it’s had a profound impact on the way Hollywood regards plastic surgery. Is it a disease, or a syndrome? Can it be caused by genetics, or is it environmental? Is it a condition, or an accident waiting to happen? These are all questions that the medical community is still exploring, but what is known is that having “open heart surgery” on a celebrity makes it that much more interesting. As a result of this one surgery, Robert Pattinson is now considered by many to be the quintessential modern-day heartthrob. So much so that when he had a second arrhythmia episode in 2012, it made national news. Many speculated that it was caused by paparazzi trouble or overuse of tablets, but he assured the public that this was not the case.
With this newfound fame came a flood of interview requests and magazine covers, in which the actor was often scrutinized about his health and his surgery. This, in turn, led to a rise in the demand for celebrity plastic surgery. More and more people are realizing that, in addition to the undeniable allure of Hollywood, having “famous” plastic surgery is a way to further one’s career. After all, if you can become famous for looking like a particular celebrity, why not? This is not to say that Hollywood has turned its back on normal medicine and wellness, but rather that it has simply adjusted its priorities. Nowadays, instead of trying to cure their disease, patients come pre-diseased to the surgeon’s office, looking to fulfil their desires for a celebrity look.
The Surgeon’s Role
There is no question that the attention that Robert Pattinson’s surgery has received is a direct result of his status as one of the most recognizable and beloved celebrities in the world. It has also, however, spotlighted the important role that surgery plays in the life of a celebrity. Without fail, every celebrity plastic surgery case that makes headlines involves some sort of surgical intervention, and it usually involves the heart. The recent surge in interest in this area is, in large part, because of the publicity that the medical community has been able to generate with regard to celebrity heart surgery. As mentioned, Robert Pattinson’s surgery was, in fact, prompted by an abnormal heart rhythm that the doctors could not locate. In other words, heart disease and the search for a surgical solution were, in this case, the root causes of his celebrity. This is, therefore, the sort of surgery that many people now want to have and, as a result, the demand for celebrity plastic surgery has never been greater.
Even before Robert Pattinson underwent his surgery, people were interested in his looks. In fact, in the year and a half leading up to his surgery, he had already been the subject of more than 500,000 selfies, with fans lining up to catch a glimpse of him as he made his way through the streets of London.
It is not, therefore, that people are looking to be like famous people, it’s that they want to be associated with them. By having plastic surgery, you become part of the celebrity culture and, as a result, have the opportunity to access the fame that comes with being associated with a globally renowned personality. Having surgery, in other words, is now seen as a means to an end, rather than a way of life.
No More Tabloids
In the past, if you had heart surgery (or, more accurately, had “open heart surgery”), it was often reported in the tabloids. That is, the newspapers would splash the story on the front page and, in so doing, give it a level of prominence that it might otherwise not have received. In this way, having surgery was, in a way, an advertisement for your surgery and, more importantly, an indication of how successful the surgery was. After all, if you’re going to pay for the privilege of having “open heart surgery,” then the better the surgeon the better.
Certainly, this sort of publicity can be beneficial. If a surgeon is able to save the life of a celebrity, it will, in all probability, receive widespread praise and fame. The fact that so many people are now seeking to emulate such famous people makes sense. The appeal of celebrity is, and has always been, the fact that it is famous. It is not, however, to be found in the bright lights of Hollywood, but, rather, in the far lesser-known, but just as fascinating, backstreets of literary London. In these sorts of places, you might discover hidden gems such as Dylan Thomas and, perhaps, even discover the poet William Blake, whose face was, in fact, the inspiration for Led Zeppelin’s famous skull logo. If you want to be like a famous writer or artist, then, perhaps, these places are where you should be looking.
The Future of Medicine
With all of this in mind, it is not difficult to see how much the world has changed since the Golden Heart operation. Instead of trying to find a medical solution to a life-threatening disease, the world now has celebrity surgeons who can, at the touch of a button, make a person look like a celebrity. Inevitably, this has led to a rise in the popularity of celebrity medicine, as people become more willing to try surgery if they think that it will improve their chances of becoming famous. While we are, of course, still skeptical about trying to base our health decisions on the whims of others, it is, nonetheless, an undeniably appealing idea.
Forbes, an international business magazine, states that, in 2017, there will be a total of 4.9 million cosmetic procedures, including surgery, administered in the U.S. The industry is expected to grow by about 10% in 2018. It would be safe to assume, in line with this, that the popularity of celebrity medicine will continue to rise in the coming years.
It would be wrong, however, to assume that this only pertains to the U.S. In fact, since the inception of the celebrity surgeon, a similar trend has spread around the world. Consider, for example, the case of Marjorie Merriweather Post, better known as the Duchess of Windsor, who was, in fact, the Queen’s cousin. In 1982, the Duchess had to have both of her knees replaced due to arthritis. Instead of living in obscurity, as was the case prior to her surgery, the 85-year-old Duchess now commands a lavish lifestyle. She has private jets and helicopters at her disposal, as well as a fleet of luxury cars. She regularly attends exclusive functions and functions with celebrity guests, including the Queen herself. Clearly, in terms of medical intervention, it is not so much that people are seeking to be like celebrities, but that they are choosing to be associated with them. As a result of this, it would appear that the future of medicine is, in fact, the past.
It is difficult to put into words the effect that the sudden fame had on Robert Pattinson’s life. Not only was he able to change his name to “Pattinson,” a combination of his favorite bands, The Beatles and The Kinks, but he also started a charity to help disabled children. The actor set up the charity in partnership with Tango, a global charity that assists disabled children, and is, in fact, one of the organizations that helped Tango choose which patients to support with its Wheelchair Accessible Transit (W.A.T) vehicles. The three-wheeled vehicles, which are accessible to people in wheelchairs, are equipped with sensors that detect wheelchair users, unlocking the vehicle’s doors for them. In the U.S., for example, the cost of a W.A.T. vehicle is around $125,000, but they cost only a few thousand dollars to buy.