THE LOOP — Justin Jedlica has had 140 plastic surgery procedures in the last 15 years.
The 33-year-old Trump Tower resident has 12 implants in his torso that mimic shapely arm and chest muscles, 15 silicone injections in his buttocks and 11 in his face.
The spate of procedures earned him the nickname "the Human Ken Doll" when he made his first TV appearance on a 2012 20/20 special called "Extreme Plastic Surgery."
Mimicking the Mattel doll wasn't his intention when he had his first nose job shortly after his 18th birthday, but he ran with it.
"They just kind of flippantly said, 'Meet our human Ken doll, Justin Jedlica, whose upper body is filled with plastic implants,'" he said. "And it was just kind of cute and catchy, there was no other reference in the entire piece that I had had surgery to look like a Ken doll. And I don't even necessarily say I look like a Ken doll, but that's what people wanted to believe."
Today, Jedlica makes regular appearances on talk shows and reality TV programs, where he's regarded as everything from a "junkie" on "My Strange Addiction" to a plastic surgery expert.
He hopes the latter designation will help him turn his experience into a profitable business to help fund the habit that's cost him $165,000 so far. He just needs to persuade Chicagoans that they could use a nip and tuck, too.
CHI-TOWN UNDER THE KNIFE
Since relocating to Chicago in July to be closer to his new husband's business, Jedlica hopes he can grow his plastic surgery consulting business in the Midwest.
But he said that will be an uphill battle.
"I'd love to expand my client list to Chicago," Jedlica said of his consulting business, which charges $500 for a single-session assessment of procedure options, doctor recommendations and drawing up a rough treatment plan.
But while Los Angelenos treat their plastic surgery "like a badge of honor" and New Yorkers are "very hush-hush" about it, but "definitely partake," Jedlica said Chicagoans seem "much more conservative about it."
"I never have people really who are nasty to me to my face because of my personal plastic surgery, but I don't see it as embraced here yet," he said. "So I think that's something that I need to just vibe out, and be in town a little more often."
He also hopes to partner with local doctors so he can start working with clients from his Trump Tower condo. For now, the surgeries he's helped coordinate are based in L.A.
BUILDING A LIVING 'DOLL'
Jedlica tried to have his first plastic surgery procedure — a rhinoplasty — when he was 17, but his parents refused to sign the consent forms he'd need to get his nose surgically reshaped as a minor.
That didn't stop him from paying for the procedure in advance with his life savings — $3,500, "every penny I'd ever gotten of holiday money, baptismal money, gifts from your aunts, grandparents uncles, whatever" that was meant to help pay for his schooling, and his tips from working as a server at a country club.
Growing up in Fishkill, N.Y., in a three-bedroom house with three siblings, Jedlica said he learned the value of a dollar. He never graduated from college, and for much of his 20s he drove a $2,000 used Pontiac Firebird, all while spending thousands of dollars each year on his "passion."
"Whatever you make as a priority for your life — and it's different for everybody — maybe you go on vacation to Cancun, I didn't do that," he said. "[Surgeries] were my vacations. That was kind of my one splurge on myself. I didn't buy other things."
He got pectoral implants as a Christmas present from a boyfriend "who did fairly well," then he said he realized he needed biceps and triceps to match after people complimented his chest but wondered "why my arms looked like sticks."
Recently married to a "successful" businessman whose Oak Brook-based business spurred their recent move, Jedlica now limits himself to an annual operation funded by his husband, with injections and other less-invasive procedures scattered in between.
Aside from the financial costs, recovering from his implant procedures is a time suck. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery estimates that full recovery from an implant-centric surgery can take up to eight weeks, with most patients bedridden for a week or two.
To lighten the mood while his skin and muscle tissue heals, Jedlica's started hosting recovery parties with what he affectionately called his "plastic surgery junkie friends."
After each procedure, "all our friends will fly in and we have a celebration," he said. "We have, like, a huge party."
THE OLD-FASHIONED WAY?
Jedlica said he never had any interest in changing his body by hitting the gym.
"I'd much rather sit in the back room and paint, and sketch. ... I just liked the arts more than sports and other active things," he said.
"When I saw all these guys that were developing decent bodies, and I wanted a nice body to emulate sort of this Adonis sort of look, I was like, it's not happening for me. I don't know why my body's not growing like that."
So he decided, "I'll just buy it."
In recent years, Jedlica's plastic surgery consumption has started to outpace the industry's technological advancements.
When he decided to feign muscles in his arms with silicone implants, he realized they didn't have materials available in the size, shape and texture he wanted.
So he partnered with an implant manufacturing company and made his own.
He built his deltoid implants to be smooth because those muscles need to move fluidly in a "pocket" of connective tissue. His bicep implants have a more pronounced texture, making them grip the surrounding muscle better, holding them in place.
If everything goes according to plan, aspiring Kens and Barbies could soon shape their bodies with silicone insertions from his custom line. He's already signed a contract to license the designs he keeps in a tin Marilyn Monroe lunch box.
He thinks a reality TV show could help promote that business, so he's gunning for one of those, too.
"It's so strange to actually hear all this negative stuff about it, because I've always thought about [plastic surgery] in a very positive way," he said. "I really never thought of myself as being weird. I think of myself as like a visionary, and a pioneer."
Jedlica said his fixation on surgical body modification comes from a place of artistic creativity, not mental illness. During a recent appearance on the talk show "Bethenny," he was told he had had body dysmorphic disorder by clinical psychologist Dr. Michelle Golland, the show's go-to guest doctor.
Jedlica fired back, "I don't have body dysmorphic disorder. True body dysmorphic disorder [sufferers] … are people who have an unrealistic vision of what they look like. When they look in the mirror, they don't see what other people see. And I think my vision is very clear."
He wonders why people question his motivation.
"I have people say to me, 'When are you going to stop? Isn't one surgery enough?' Would you have said that to Picasso or Rodin? 'You made one sculpture, that's enough.'"