Under the Knife

Under the Knife

2007, Society  -    -  Playlist 45 Comments
Ratings: 6.75/10 from 32 users.

Under the KnifeLouis Theroux travels out to Los Angeles to check out the world of plastic surgery, where breast enhancements, tummy tucks, muscle implants and the like are common procedures.

Spending time in the surgeries of several plastic surgeons, Louis meets the doctors who carry out the operations and the people who feel they need work – whether it is a man looking to make his muscles look larger or a woman preparing to undergo surgery as part of improving her life. On this occasion though, Louis also undergoes a procedure himself to experience it firsthand.

If anyone else decided to have surgery as part of a film about plastic surgery I would be very cynical and assume the worst but I think Louis Theroux is unlikely to be accused of cheap tricks or gimmicks. Mostly he does a good job of getting in with his subjects and bringing them out in front of the cameras; one could accuse him of manipulating them perhaps but I think that is too harsh a description.

Here he does enough away from the gimmick of having liposuction to justify it as quite a small part of the show. The rest is interesting if not fascinating. Naturally the patients make for the most interesting scenes and some of them are curious and quite sad. Some are easy targets but Theroux's soft touch prevents it feeling like he is getting at them.

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10 years ago

. Plastic surgery to get your man back, All I can say is wow! This woman needs to sit down with a psychologist and talk about her self esteem issues. And a man telling her she's reached her full potential and their relationship is now improved, that dude for 1. is a complete puke 2. a f*cking *ss hole and a pig. I can't believe the lengths some women would go to just to keep a man. Digusting

11 years ago

The fact that these people who got plastic surgery think they look flawless now are delusional. The enhancements are extremely noticeable far from a natural look.

11 years ago

That receptionist looks soo trashy....all the makeup and the low cut shirts...I know its a surgeons office but it's still a professional medical office.....she looks awful.

Cupcake Time
11 years ago

I understand havign small tweaks here and there-but if you're just too lazy to work out so you get bicept inmplants of liposuction, get real. It's an insult to the rest of us who work hard every day to stay in shape. The funny thing is, everyone in this video who's had tons of surgery looks ridiculous...that steve guy looked hilarious...lauras image consultant looked severly plastic....what is wrong with people!

Colin Perkins
11 years ago

I'm glad Louis pointed out Steve Ehrhardt's pecs, they're dangerously close to breasts...

Letters to the World
11 years ago

Laura may think she's better off now that she looks better on the outside, but that guy is not worth it. If he wasn't interested in her before and now he is because she went and changed her looks through surgery he was never really interested in HER. Also Laura still has emotional issues which can't be improved through surgery. Those will come back to haunt her eventually and then what will happen? More surgery?

That personal coach of hers creeps me out. The coach tries to 'help' her by convincing Laura that she needs to change her looks but most guys will agree that confidence trumps looks pretty much all the time. She looked just fine before. If she had had more confidence she would never have needed that surgery.

12 years ago

happiness and peace come from with in. these people are the victims of out shallow culture. free yous self from mental slavery!

12 years ago

Some of these people are super lazy and crazy.

-> I can understand boob-jobs, you can't get that through exercise or diet.

-> I can understand nose-jobs, those make sense to me

But a lot of the dumbtards who got stuff like lipo or pec and bicep implants, wtf?

The guy with all the muscle implants looked worse than what he could have if he had spent a few years lifting weights. I mean, I could understand going under the knife if he a) wanted unnaturally big muscles b) he wants to get those unnaturally big muscles without using steroids.

But most of the people doing muscle implants only get muscles that are very easily achievable through weight-lifting. Heck, you can get that amount of muscle by just lifting for 10 mins in the morning AT HOME with weights that fit under your bed.

The receptionist doing LIPO? WTHF? She's seriouslly mentally challenged. She says she "tried situps and couldn't get it off". If she did even 5 minutes of googling, she'd know that situps don't remove fat. She couldn't do 5 minutes of research, but she goes under the knife?

If she also did research, she'd know that lipo only removes fat temporarily. If you eat the way you did, the body will eventually put fat there again.She freaking tried to remove fat doing freaking situps (instead of studying caloric restriction and bodyfat levels)... I can't believe these lazy bums.

12 years ago

God bless Louis, going under the knife shows how he tries to gain an understanding of all sides in his docus.

12 years ago

surely the surgeons know as they have studied physiology at some point in their career that to have a well defined chest you WILL have had to do press ups or bench press - some activity where your tricepts would have grown/toned up in a similar proportion - making your arms bigger.
So to give a man chest implants to look like muslce is nothing more than a con. Also the same with bicepts, you WILL train your forearms while doing any kind of bicept work, so it just looks ridiculous to have bicepts and chest mass without anything else. Infact he probably looked better before - now he looks like he is in the process of a sex change taking estrogen, or maybe has an underlying genetic condition in the sex chromosomes

12 years ago

This whole thing disturbs me so much! They all look like horrible aliens.

vokman M.
12 years ago

As more beautiful gender, ladies do go more often then we do!, I mean - males. I can understand that but please, in my opinion at least 75% gets hooked really serious!
It is a plastic drug, no doubt, in the western hemisphere especially! ... and so on ... I mean, I have a little bit of a wider nose but I don't wanna to fix it!
Hack NO!!! At least... not yet.

12 years ago

Laura needs a spine!!! That man that she was putting herself in danger over will eventually leave her again. These women need to get a grip.

Also, these plastic surgeons like to spew pure sh** out of their mouths. Not one surgeon had something intelligent or sincere to say. They just want money and these idiots are forking it over.

Dick Longfellow
12 years ago

Plastic surgery is addictive, not to unlike tattoos.
Ultimately beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. Los Angeles should never be the measuring stick from which the rest of the country should measure themselves.

And Louie, about the nose job ... not such a bad a idea..LOL

We love u Louie!

12 years ago

i cant believe the crap that 2000 dollar a day lady was spouting about that girl finally getting to be "herself" and happy being who "she really is".


talk about preying on the weak.she is a predator.

-haha Louis is the man

12 years ago

There's a happy medium for everything. If there is one specific thing about your face, body, w/e that bothers the hell out of you and you happen to have a big wad of cash burning a hole in your pocket, what the hell, go get a nose job or lipo or whatever.

The problem is when you believe that you can achieve physical perfection... there will always be some little thing you can tweak if you look hard enough. The other issue that appears to be pretty consistent among some of these people in this video is that they have underlying emotional issues that seem to be influencing their decision. If you don't address the underlying issue, you will never feel ok about your body, regardless of how many procedures you have.

But, at the end of the day, the people who choose to get these procedures are adults and they're capable of making their own decisions. If they earned the money and they're cool with blowing $50k on plastic man-boobs and whatnot, have at it... Personally, I find the obsessive and manipulative side of the industry as somewhere between pathetic and revolting. There's a reason I have no interest in living in or near Beverly Hills.

12 years ago

Really captivating doc, full of interesting characters and bull called out by reason. Standard Theroux fare, and I mean that as a high compliment. Really something to see a probing interview of a surgeon carried out during the probing surgery of the interviewer!

I disagree with mostly everything that has made this industry lucrative, but that image consultant witch was the only person in this doc that really made me angry. Taking emotionally fragile women, manipulating them with insincere psych tricks into believing they need you to make them worthwhile, abusing their bodies and minds, and overcharging them for it is sleazy pimp "work". I would feel no more remorse about punching this woman in her fake face than I would beating her male equivalent, and hope someone closer to her feels the same.

12 years ago

The thing about plastic surgery to me is what is rarely reported because it doesn't happen as often. You can die on an operating table. When that happens would you wish you could have reversed your decision to be so perfect about your looks or would it just be those you left behind. I'm in favor of something surgical for inhibiting things like your eyelids drooping and covering up your sight but the rest I can't get on board for. Those last few comments that Dr. made kind of showed he didn't think it was all neccessary. Don't some of our imperfections make us look like... well us. If everyone got the perfect nose, the perfect body, the perfect face then yes we are then clones and what makes one prettier than the other. Expected him to chicken out but he went for it, surprised there so it did deliver.

13 years ago

@Maria indeed that is one ugly breast implant...

13 years ago

Male should not get breast implants, it looks like they do in fact have breast!

13 years ago

Seriously the woman that got her man back because she looks "beautiful" now is so sad... what a douche her man is... her problems are not on the outside they are obviously self esteem issues that this guy has helped in developing.. she needs a new man not a new look even though she does look great.. not forgetting the woman that has been "helping" her pick out her new outfit and her new look.. what kind of a person is that? geez!! i have a very hard time accepting plastic surgery, maybe when i'm old and saggy i would get it but i still feel that every age has it's beauty.. and you can't just walk life half assing it.. you want to look good exercise eat right...

13 years ago

I feel sorry for that lady who got her "man" back because of these surgeries. It is more than obvious that the "man" in question was highly superficial.

13 years ago

The guys with pec and bicep implants look like they have boobs. If they got them the hard way, lift weights, they'd have muscles all over their upper bodies. You can't just implant "muscles" into one area and expect them to look natural.

13 years ago

It's amazing how Louis is under the knife and he's still in "journalistic" mode.
Louis is an exceptional journalist.

13 years ago

Self mutilation as a form of aesthetic enhancement can be found throughout human history.

13 years ago

great doc

13 years ago

The way that louis was taking whilst having his lipo made me think "well, it's not that bed after all". I have always been chubby and dieting is such a struggle..

Let me see if this lipo will help me be me. The me inside.

13 years ago

Myslef being male and 52, I suppose i am one of the twenty percent the Doctor spoke of, having recently under going cosmetic surgery mayself, the main reason being that during my younger days I used to box and my nose had been broken three times and it showed,.
but as I was going ofr a nose job, I thought why not have my love handles sucked out, as that is one part of my body, that despite the amount of exersise I doen seemd as though it was never going and had my eye brows lifted,
and I explianed tpo Doctor during our consultation I did not want to lose the character of my face,

the Doctor has done an excellent job, most of my friends notice there is something different about me, and seem to put it down to how well i look,
also which is a wonderful thing I had a long scar running fom just under my right eye down to almost my jaw line, which has been taken out,
and so many more people and i mean many more, smile at me on the St, and do not so find my look so intimmidating that they do not wish to approach me,
really it has chenged my life,

13 years ago

To be fair the lady with the 2000 dollar a day nanny does look like she has Improved her appearance but that's a double edged sword because when you place so much emphasis on something superficial and you get to a certain degree what you asked for then the problem usually just transforms Into something else more elusive.

13 years ago

Aside from the argument whether surgery will make these people happy or not (I beleive It doesn't because they have placed the physical above the spiritual and that always leads to chaos , the lower should serve the higher not the other way round)I haven't seen anything that's aesthetically better than before.The men look like they have breasts and not pecs ,which totally defeats the purpose of their surgery in the first place.The one who had botox on his lips looks like he was stung by a couple of bees.The female breast Implants just look like inflated balloons , not natural at all.
The worst of It Is that people are inserting foreign material Into their bodies which can cause so many complications and illnesses.

13 years ago

"I have such a huge problem with a male plastic surgeon deciding how women’s bodies should look. It’s the very definition of oppression and sexism"

Unfortunately, if you take the final analysis of why women have their body carved up in this fashion, it is to please or attract men. This being the case why would you not choose a man?

Charles B.
13 years ago

We have a plastic surgeon that is a personal friend. She gave my lovely wife a free nose job (much to my displeasure as I didn't want her to do it). 10 months later, when she was 7 months pregnant, I was overjoyed when an infection required her to have to yank that piece of rubber out of her nose! Ah! Back to the lovely chubby flat nose I dearly loved and married. God is good. ;-)

She said we could chop off part of her ear and try again and I politely said "Ah, That's ok. She perfect the way she is!"

Form the C
13 years ago

"Vanity is the reason why humans are not on the endanger species list"
-Isn't vanity and greed exactly what put our entire home at risk?
"people wanting to look the way they see themselves"
- Thats like the hole trouble as i see it, people only see themselves as their psychical manifestation which are perfectly clear showed in this doc. This isnt about reconstructing surgery, and i really dont think this is "taking care of yourself" taking anesthetics, cutting in the flesh and putting stuff under your skin to..no, i really hope that we one day see each other differently and could skip all this. One day we even might become as we think we want to be.:D

13 years ago

If we don't discriminate against transexual or tom boys.. then why do we continue to discriminate ppl with plastic surgery... it's pretty much boil down to the same thing.... people wanting to look the way they see themselves.....let there be plastic surgery

Go plastic
13 years ago

What is wrong with Vanity? and chasing it? Vanity is the reason why humans are not on the endanger species list.
Dentist, eye surgery, and the whole hygienic industry comes from Vanity. Most people take baths everyday to avoid smelling like rotten garbage, not for health reasons.

If plastic surgery patient have self-esteem problem. So do everyone who buys perfume, cosmetics, big cars, big home, and date models.

I am up for plastic surgery, especially for the reconstructive work they do most of the time (reconstruct faces of burnt victims, birth defects).People should be able to look the way they want.

Form the C
13 years ago

This is really upsetting. This doc shows a bunch of mentally unhealthy people trying to define happiness. To them this feeling is still only on the physical level. Its like watching a group of monkeys with blindfolds on LSD trying to explain in the smartest way exactly why they have to have this breast implants. Its really offensive that so many people still don't connect mind and body at all, how fu*ked up isn't that?! PROJECTION people. Projection.

13 years ago

No mention of cost/price.

13 years ago

I agree with you Silkop. When Louis Theroux began his argument regarding plastic surgeons and their industry perpetuating and increasing the demand of plastic surgery, I rolled my eyes. You hit it on the head when you compared that idea to education, cars and real estate. Of course that is what the surgeons wanted, it is capitalism. People will always want to improve themselves so that they have more opportunity than their neighbor. In my eyes, a plastic surgeon's job is at the height of the capitalistic feeding frenzy. Lets just hope they keep the f*ups to a minimum.

On a side note- I have always wondered about the children of a plastic surgery patient. What body perception disorders do they end up with? When a mother looks at her child and see's her old nose, how does she make that child feel about that feature while the child matures around her influence?

13 years ago

The main argument that plastic surgery is "vanity" and is making other people look worse in comparison is dumb. The same could be said about getting an education, purchasing a car, buying real estate or just about any other good that other people might envy.

The real issue should have been whether plastic surgery really makes people look more attractive and the risks of "botched" surgery. The big-breasted receptionist and the German-born entrepreneur with fake muscles were both looking like freaks to me (though her nose got improved).

13 years ago

An intelligent British man trying to reason with people from LA!?! lol, he must have felt so out of place.

Anonymous Coward
13 years ago

Amazing. Some people should be disposed of for wasting natural resources.

13 years ago

I have such a huge problem with a male plastic surgeon deciding how women's bodies should look. It's the very definition of oppression and sexism.

Thanks for putting this up Vlatko! Very interesting.