Hollywood Fantasy Treatment:
Scarless face transplants in "The Skin I Live In" and "Sherlock Holmes, Game of Shadows"

In this era of increasing realistic CGI effects, we have to be reminded that movies and reality exist in separate universes.  Case in point: Plastic surgery results.  Plastic surgeons are trained alter the shape of the face, lifting droops, filling valleys, tightening laxity.  To achieve these results, some cutting of the skin is involved.  Scars are the natural result, but making scars small and hidden is a large part of the surgeon’s training and skill.


In movies, however, dramatic surgical interventions are performed that magically involve no scarring at all.  In “Dark Passage,” (1947), an escaped convict undergoes plastic surgery and ends up looking exactly like the actor Humphrey Bogart.  In “Face/Off” (1997), Nicolas Cage and John Travolta have their faces transplanted from one to the other.  Downtime, healing issues, scarring?  Not seen onscreen.

In 2011, quirky Spanish director Almodovar released “The Skin I Live In” starring “Puss In Boots” himself, Antonio Banderas, as a brilliant but twisted plastic surgeon.  After his wife and daughter commit suicide, he proceeds to kidnap an individual and gradually transform that person into a replica of his dead wife.  Through a series of procedures, he manages to recreate her appearance.

The result, played by actress Elena Anaya, is not just scar-free, but by most conventional standards, super hot.  Disclaimer:  Just because this subject matter warrants discussion at skinema.com, the editorial board, investors and custodial staff in no way recommend the film. Though trying for Hitchcock, the result is “Saw” meets an Adam Sandler gender bender.  And not even as fun as that might sound. We warned you!


In “Sherlock Holmes, A Game of Shadows”  two “twins” are actually a man and then someone else who has had plastic surgery to mimic his appearance.  This in the 1890’s, long before sterile technique and the availability of antibiotics. Amazingly, there is no infections, scarring or deformities.  Disclaimer:  Just because we are discussing this latest in the Robert Downey Jr. franchise does not mean that the writers, researchers and window washers at skinema.com are lending the flick our endorsement.  The plot was so convoluted that we are not sure what the significance of these “twins” were to the story.  You heard it here first.  Or maybe second.

In reality, extensive plastic surgery cannot be achieved without significant scarring.  Recently, new breakthroughs have occurred. Not just modifying an existing face, but transplanting a face from one person to another. A handful of face transplants have been performed in the recent past on individuals whose faces had undergone deforming trauma.  These people have to remain on medicines that suppress the immune system’s tendency to reject the foreign tissue.  While it is better to be face-full rather than face- less, both for cosmetic and functional reasons, the results in our universe (as opposed to the movie-verse) look like this:

"Successful" face transplant results...
...performed in the real world...
...without movie special effects.

Outside of movies, there seems very little risk that people will elective undergo face transplants just to mimic their fave celebs. Vicariously seeing the process in films should be enough. Kids don't try this at home.


Runner-up, Hollywood Fantasy Treatment:
Those masks in the "Mission Impossible" movies

In the MI flicks, there is always some dude...
...who looks nothing like Tom Cruise...
...who actually turns out to be Tom Cruise.

Cool concept and one that could make dermatologists obsolete. Bad complexion today? Just crank out a new instant face mask. Caveat: They don't exist, with or without a multi-million dollar blockbuster budget.


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