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Hansen: Is the idea of beauty a grasp at the past?

July 05, 2012|By David Hansen

There's a reason dog owners resemble their dogs — or spouses sometimes look like brother and sister.

While we are encouraged to reach beyond our grasp, we rarely do. And people are fine with that. People are happy. They feel comfortable.

"You have some people carry all their problems because of some physical flaw, and yet you have people with many physical flaws that adjust to life and are very happy, with more associations with friends than other people," said Connell. "So their attitude is probably more important than some minor flaw or major flaw."


Connell's views on attitude are not just academic. At one point in his career, it was said he wouldn't perform surgery on someone who didn't have a sense of humor.

In 1996, he was featured on the cover of the Los Angeles Times Magazine by Laguna-based writer Shawn Hubler, who interviewed several plastic surgeons. They all raved about Connell's approach and influence.

"What Michelangelo was to the Sistine ceiling," said Dr. Richard D'Amico at the time, "Bruce Connell is to facial aesthetic surgery."

"For decades, colleagues have flocked to his sold-out seminars and stalked him at medical conferences," Hubler wrote. "Other surgeons have pestered him to work on their own faces. Textbooks and scholarly papers have detailed his techniques for elective surgeries in every imaginable niche of the burgeoning market, from women whose necks sag to bald men who want brow-lifts.

"His former apprentices, known as Connell Fellows, gather regularly from around the globe as the collective Connell Society to learn from one another and their mentor."

All of this work, all of this beauty, is still ongoing. Remarkably, Connell carries a full and demanding consulting schedule.

"I've been working a very heavy practice until the beginning of this year," said Connell, who turns 85 in September. "I'm slowing down now because I've taught so much. I'm limiting my practice to charity work and teaching."

Beauty never rests. It is both classic and evolving. The kind we care about ages because it's human.

And when it's not human, it's obvious. We ridicule it as fake and obscene, even though it's just someone reaching for the past.

Hoping for a happier tomorrow.

DAVID HANSEN is a writer and Laguna Beach resident. He can be reached at

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