A Family Affair

Father And His Sons Undergo Liposuction

Meet Leon Seidman and his sons – Jeff, 20, and Daniel, 26.

They are three regular guys, more or less. Only they want to emphasize the less.

"I've always wanted to deal with my body," says Leon.

"I don't want to look the way I do now," adds son, Jeff.

"I look in the mirror and I see love handles," says his brother, Daniel. "I want them to be gone."

Correspondent Maureen Maher reports on the Seidmans decision to make liposuction a family affair, in a story that first aired in April.
The three Seidmans have spent most of their lives in Hagerstown, Md. Leon is known as the King of Catnip, a business he founded and is handing down to his sons.

"This is a pretty cool way to make a living," says Leon. "This is a lot of fun. You get to play with cats and make people happy."

But Leon was not happy about his social life. Two divorces left him feeling self-conscious about his body.

"I have always had very large breasts," says Leon.

Jeff and Daniel also have their own issues. Jeff was always a very big kid. And Daniel says he's always been a perfectionist about his body.

All three began thinking seriously about having plastic surgery. But in a place like Hagerstown, the very idea of suctioning fat from your body can seem downright un-American.

So Leon and his sons kept their secret fantasy to themselves. Until, one at a time, they all moved to Los Angeles, Calif. – where the weather is nearly as beautiful as the people.

Surrounded by the sun and palm trees, Leon is still in the catnip business but it's clear he's not in Hagerstown anymore.

"I walk out of my apartment and I see people jogging," says Leon. "There's a certain unconscious peer pressure. I want to do it because it because they're doing it and there are a lot of people doing it. I joke, 'I'm the fattest guy on my block' and I just might be."

Leon, 59, is ready to start dating again. But he says diet and exercise have not given him the sleek body he would like before hitting the singles scene.

"I would probably have to starve in order to really lose weight. I go weeks eating very little and nothing happens," says Leon.

Sara Pollan is Daniel's girlfriend. Never fat, she thinned out her lower body with liposuction.

"I love my body today. It was like a monkey off my back," says Pollan.

Raised in Los Angeles, Pollan says she is one satisfied customer.

"I think that plastic surgery is a fantastic addition to the 20th Century, and I think that anybody who has anything that they have grilled themselves and disliked about themselves for however many years, give that to yourself," says Sara.

So Sara brought the whole family to Beverly Hills, where there are more than 200 cosmetic surgeons within two blocks. In fact, there are nine, including Sara's own plastic surgeon, Dr. Les Bolton, in one building alone.

"As a cosmetic plastic surgeon, my goal is to help people look better and in most cases enhance their self-esteem," says Bolton, who says working on all three Seidman family members would be a first.

But Leon, Jeff and Daniel are part of a trend. More than one million men chose plastic surgery last year. And that number is still rising.

When it comes to men and women, which gender is more vain about looks?
"Women are used to putting more emphasis on beauty, spending more time, spending more money," says Bolton. "Men are catching up because the double standard is fading."

"There was a time in this country when women couldn't vote because it wasn't right. There was a time when blacks couldn't do things because it wasn't right," says Leon. "Now, those other things were important issues that really affected people's lives. This is a minor issue but it affects my life."

Bolton expects to remove between 10 to 12 pounds of fat, which will give Leon the appearance of losing 24 pounds.

That is the beauty of liposuction. Unlike dieting, it allows Leon to draw a bulls-eye on the fat he wants to zap.

"It sounds absolutely wonderful," says Leon. "The chest is going, the stomach is going, the sides are going' and my neck."

So what's going to be left of Leon? "My soul," he says.

Leon is footing the bill for the whole family, giving Jeff and Daniel a chance to get back to their slimmer selves. The total cost? $34,000 dollars. And not a penny is covered by insurance.

Daniel is in great shape, but he says he wants to fix some spots on his body. "I just want to fix my love handles," he says, admitting that he's striving for perfection.

Does it concern Dr. Bolton that young kids are coming in wanting to change their bodies and themselves?

"I think one needs to be careful with a younger patient," says Bolton. "If a man is looking for perfection, I either give him a dose of reality or I decline to operate on him."

So what's the dose of reality?

"Rarely in plastic surgery do we achieve perfection, because as opposed to a painting or a sculpting in which you can get a new piece of marble, we really only have one chance to get it right," says Bolton.

Or, in this case, three chances because Leon, Jeff and Daniel are plunging ahead, turning this liposuction surgery into one big family affair.

Do they consider this the easy way out?

Dan says yes. "There's no way I'm going to knock out all the things I like to eat. I can't. There's no option," he says. "I cannot work out for three hours a day every day. I don't have the time."

Leon believes liposuction is his only option. "I'm never going to be able to do the exercises necessary to get my body back into shape. It's just not going to happen."

And Jeff, who's only 20, says this isn't the only way, just the best way. "I have problems to where I'm always going to have fat cells. I'm going to have a big neck no matter what."

The big day finally arrives.

Jeff is first up and he's brought along his long time girlfriend, Hannah Chambers. Chambers, who lives in Baltimore, is there for support though you'd hardly know it from talking to her.

"He's 20 years old. He doesn't need to go and get liposuction or plastic surgery," she says, admitting she and Jeff fought over his decision to get liposuction. "I wasn't very happy about the way it was all happening. I just felt like, 'How could you do this to yourself? How could you do this to me? How could you do this to our relationship?'"

After five hours, Jeff is done. And for the first time, it's clear that liposuction is serious surgery. It calls for general anesthesia, and while the operation is much safer than before, people have died undergoing liposuction.

"The procedure with Jeff went very smoothly," says Dr. Bolton. "We suctioned the abdomen, the flanks, the inner thighs, the chest, the neck and the lower face."

"It'll be about seven pounds of fat. He would have to lose almost 20 pounds to see the same change because he would lose it in areas that he didn't need to lose it."

Daniel is up next. His procedure takes a little more than an hour and he loses about two pounds of fat.

Two days later, after cutting off the beard he's had for 30 years, it's finally Leon's turn. Eight pounds later, Leon is done.

Dr. Bolton says the operations are a success, but in the end, will it all be worth it?

Right after their liposuction surgeries, Leon, Daniel and Jeff were looking a bit less than perfect.

"I thought, 'My God, why is this happening? Why did I do this,'" says Leon.

But after seven weeks, things are looking much better.

"When I look at myself," says Leon, "I am really happy to be me."

His son Daniel, who looked pretty good before the surgery, says he's happy with the result.

"I look physically like I was when I was about 18," says Daniel. "I'm 26 and that's unbelievable."

And so is Leon's other son Jeff, who, truth be told, did need to lose a few pounds.

"I do look better," he says. "That's the thing. It's not like I think. It's like I know."

He's not kidding. His girlfriend agrees. Chambers, who lives back east, says Jeff is a lot thinner now.

"Oh my God! He's a lot skinnier. Can't get over the Jeff Light. When I used to hug him, it would be like this," says Hannah, holding her hands way out. Now, she can wrap her arms all the way around him.

Leon's employees back in his Maryland catnip factory also notice that the catnip king is a new man.

Now, for the moment of truth.

Daniel, who weighed 172 pounds before surgery, now weighs 160. And his desired six-pack is just about there.

Jeff, who used to weigh 240 pounds, is now a relatively svelte 218.

Leon dropped from 195 to 178 pounds. But for him, it's not so much what he lost as what he gained – confidence.

"I had a couple of dates," says Leon. "In fact, next week, I may be dating a lady that was a Mouseketeer."

With his two divorces behind him, he's back in the L.A. dating scene.

"I feel really good about myself," says Leon. "I did it because I wanted to do it and I said, 'Well, I am OK.' I look good and I feel good."

  • Rebecca Leung

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