It's the kind of fairy tale that would only happen in Los Angeles: An actress and a plastic surgeon fall in love, get married, have kids, and become reality-TV superstars with — and this is big — untarnished reputations. Meet Heather and Terry Dubrow, MD. You know her from The Real Housewives of Orange County and him from Botched, but the two also balance a skin-care line, books, a podcast, and a YouTube show. If we were into tired hashtags, #powercouplegoals might be appropriate.
Television has given us a glimpse into the Dubrows' world, but we wanted to know what being married to a plastic surgeon is actually like when the cameras stop rolling. Are there Botox injections on the couch before bed? Do dinner party guests expose their breasts and request an expert opinion after three glasses of wine? How good is the friends and family discount? Below, in her own words, Heather Dubrow tells us about the perks and pressures of living with a celebrity doctor.
As told to Alix Tunell and edited for length and clarity.
Where I grew up — a quiet, sleepy town in Westchester County, [New York] — we only had one plastic surgeon, so people didn't think about it. Even though there was money there, people didn't drive flashy cars and they certainly didn't have plastic surgery. All we knew about was the occasional girl who got the 16-year-old nose job, so it was a complete culture shock when I came out to California after college.
I moved out because I was working on a TV show and I met Terry when I was 27; he's almost 11 years older than me. We went on a blind date and after it, he watched me on the TV show and he said to me, "You know, when you frown, you get these little deep lines between your eyes." I was like, "Excuse me?! I do not!" and I thought, How rude. Then, of course, I watched the show the next week and I was like, Oh my god, he's totally right; I have deep lines right there.
I asked him what I should do and he said, "If you just inject a little bit of Botox..." I thought he was crazy, because I thought that stuff was for old people, but he was coming from a place of, "If you do a little now, you'll never need it." But I was 27 — no one had ever told me to do that; I just didn't come from that kind of culture. I figured Terry and I were never going to work out, because everything on my body is real.
I haven't had plastic surgery. To me, it just felt too cliché to be an actress, living in Orange County, married to a plastic surgeon...
I did decide to get Botox sparingly, but I'm all about non-surgical solutions to anti-aging. I know that because I'm married to a plastic surgeon, everyone thinks I have everything done under the sun, but there are pictures of me from basically birth until now [that prove otherwise]. I had an umbilical hernia after having the kids that he fixed and he cleaned up my C-section scar, but I haven't had plastic surgery. To me, it just felt too cliché to be an actress, living in Orange County, married to a plastic surgeon — to have lots of silicone in me didn't feel right.
Now, what is concerning as a person in the public eye and as a women who's aging and wants to look her best, is to hear people be critical. People say to me, "Oh you've had so much work done," and I'm like, "Well, I haven't had any work done, but does that mean that I need to?" It's hard.
People always ask if he’s automatically assessing them when he meets them — and the answer is no, he's not. He doesn't pick people apart; he's not judgmental like that. If someone comes to him for a consult, he doesn't say, "So, you're here for your nose?" Because they might not see that as a problem and they might be there to fix something else.
However, people definitely like curbside consults, but he's pretty good at handling it. For me, there's nothing to be jealous of. It's not like I think about my husband seeing naked women all day — it's surgical; they're just body parts. As a matter of fact, his job has ruined any sort of pornographic experience for him. He was at a conference in New Orleans with another plastic surgeon friend of his and they were at a bar where the girls lift their shirts and show their breasts and you throw them beads. And Terry was like, "Oh, she's encapsulated..." They looked at each other and were like, "This is totally lost on us. This is not fun at all." I thought that was so funny.
Terry has worked on some of my friends in a couple different situations, but in general, he has a "no friends or family" rule. People think of plastic surgery as a spa day, but it's still surgery, and, let's face it, shit happens. So it's best to keep that off the table. He’s the only one who has ever injected me and I go to his office to do it, but it’d actually probably be easier for him if I went to someone else. Trust me, he doesn’t want a patient living with him. If something goes wrong, it’s not good.
We have four kids and three of them are girls. Plastic surgery is something that is discussed in our household — there’s no taboo to it. The kids watch Botched, because Terry watches Botched. They know that it should only be done by a board-certified plastic surgeon on patients that are cleared for surgery and emotionally able to handle it. We give our kids a really good body image and promote healthy eating for them.
If they ever wanted to get plastic surgery and if it was the right thing for the right reason, and they felt very comfortable about it, then we'd be okay with it. There are certain procedures that people do when the kids are younger, like having their ears pinned back if they're being teased at school or getting their noses done at 15 or 16 years old, but for things like breast surgery or liposuction...the body has to finish growing.
It's not like I think about my husband seeing naked women all day — it's surgical; they're just body parts.
But my kids are also looking at me and I'm not judging people that do, but I don't have fake breasts or any plastic surgery. Yes, I do a little Botox. Yes, I get a little Sculptra in my temples if they hollow out, but they see me as a mum who eats healthy and who works out and is fit, but isn't obsessive and still eats Oreo cookies. Hopefully, I'm being a good role model for them.
For me, the biggest perk is just having a doctor in the family to navigate problems with the kids or my parents. It's so comforting and makes me feel very safe. It's funny, because you would think that I would take advantage of having a plastic surgeon as a husband and be in there all the time and having facials or lasers or things injected, but I don't. I think sometimes when it's in your backyard, you just take it for granted.