Years ago, I had a new patient who told me that he was a judge, and he took his job and the legal system very seriously. But the problem was he had a scowl on his face, and he looked perpetually angry. His eyebrows were shaped downward, and his brow was descending, so he really did look like a mean, angry person.

"It really bothers me that people in my courtroom are scared of me and make snap judgments about my feelings because I look this way," he told me. "It's affecting my work. Can you help?"

In this case, I could, so I performed a face-lift. He was ecstatic afterward. It was a subtle transformation—he just looked happier. He later told me that his colleagues thought he'd gotten married because he seemed so pleased all the time. They had no idea he'd had work done.

This patient was a perfect example of someone with healthy vanity. He knew what was wrong—that he looked mean due solely to anatomy—and was willing to do what it took to change it.

A Simple Tip for Nurturing Healthy Vanity

One simple step you can take in your quest to nurture healthy vanity is to be conscious of your reaction to a compliment. It should be a simple "Thank you" rather than a negative, guilt-tinged reaction, such as: "This old thing? Oh, I got it on sale." If someone tells you your hair looks terrific or your dress is pretty, the effort you've put into your appearance has been noticed, and in the nicest way. Healthy vanity means you appreciate being noticed. Narcissism means you expect to be noticed because you're sure you deserve to be.

Can you tell the difference between healthy vanity and narcissism? Take the quiz

New York City plastic surgeon Dr. Robert M. Tornambe is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons (FACS) and diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgery (board certified). In addition to completing his plastic surgery training at the University of Texas-Houston, Dr. Tornambe has completed fellowship training in surgery of the breast with world-renowned plastic surgeons and acted as the chief of the division of plastic surgery at Cabrini Medical Center in New York City for nearly two decades.

Dr. Tornambe has lectured in the United States and Europe and is considered an expert in cosmetic facial and breast surgery. He was listed in
New York Magazine's "The Best Doctors in New York." Dr. Tornambe has appeared on Dateline, NBC's Today and The Charlie Rose Show, and he was the only New York City-based plastic surgeon to appear on the ABC series Extreme Makeover. His latest book isThe Beauty Quotient Formula (Hay House).
Adapted from The Beauty Quotient Formula. Copyright 2010 by Robert Tornambe, MD, FACS. Reprinted by permission of Hay House, Inc.


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