What Makes Plastic Surgery Results Great?

There are thousands of Plastic Surgeons in the world who do cosmetic surgery. Each one is trained differently, has a different esthetic eye, and experience. The ones who are Board Certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery meet a certain standard of knowledge, but it does not mean they can achieve great results.
When I go to meetings, I can tell who is an artist and who is a technician in my field. The technicians are the ones who talk about precise measurements and protocols and absolutes, with algorithms for procedures and ratios that must be met. The artists are the ones who talk about balance and proportion and the variations of beauty from patient to patient. I like to think of myself as an artist who respects the traditions of technicians but relies on his own eyes to determine the final results.
To me, I like to achieve dramatic changes in appearance that do not alter the basic character of the person. Everyone should still recognize them after, and be left wondering what is different. If you get the harmony and balance right, even the most drastic improvement appears natural.
Part of it is also to listen to your patient, and communicate well to insure you are both on the same page with regards to goals. I tell my patients they do not have to choose the exact advice I would give as long as what they want is within the boundaries of good taste and normalcy.
How can you tell if your Plastic Surgeon is great? Talk to him/her, feel their personality, and see if the results are what you would want. If they can show you they have achieved what you want before, on a consistent basis, and seem to connect with you, it is probably a good partnership.


What Are Stretch Marks?

As a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon in New York City, I am no stranger to patients looking to remove stretch marks. They are those wide, scary marks that start out pink and can turn red or brown depending on your skin type. Eventually they turn silvery white. What might surprise you is that more and more of them are men.

Men get stretch marks for different reasons than women. The most common causes are puberty, rapid weight gain, steroid use, and overaggressive weight lifting especially at younger ages. Women get them from pregnancy, hormonal changes, and weight swings.

Stretch marks are a tear in the deeper layers of the skin caused by a stretching force from the inside out. This leaves the surface of your skin intact, but it is empty underneath making it appear like a run in a stocking. Most often they appear on the stomach, shoulders, and hips and thighs.

How do you erase a stretch mark? That is the trillion dollar question. In short, you can not erase a stretch mark, but you can make it look much better. There is no laser, cream, or peel that will magically eliminate these scars as of yet.

The only way to remove a stretch mark 100% is to remove the skin it is on. In women, a tummy tuck can often accomplish this. In men, if it is the stomach that has the striae after weight loss, this is possible. Yes, I have done tummy tucks on many men. But what about shoulders and legs?

We treat each stretch mark differently. We use some creams to help fade the color, and have had good success with Silkpeel, dermabrasion, and laser in the right patients. Men like it, because it does not involve surgery or time off from work.

So don’t feel alone, ladies. Some men also feel your pain.


The Hard Part of Plastic Surgery

I have now nearly completed 16 years in my private practice of cosmetic plastic surgery in NYC. Most of what I see and do was not shaped by my college or medical school education. Not even what I learned in my general and plastic surgery training makes up a fraction of the knowledge base needed to run an effective and efficient medical practice.

Learning how to do a surgery is something that is usually not tremendously difficult. The technical skills are basic and well ingrained from formal training. The presurgical evaluation and consult require a bit more finesse and aptitude.

I used to think that the consult was to make sure the patient was a good candidate for the procedure, and understood the process involved. Additionally, I was auditioning for the patient to make sure that they wanted me as opposed to the 1000’s of others available in the New York Area. Not so much. It is to insure good patient selection as to not only fitness physically for the surgery, but emotionally and realistically.

Some patients believe that plastic surgery does not leave any marks, that breasts can defy gravity forever, and that having a flat stomach requires no diet or exercise. Others believe that there results are bad if their spouse cheats on them or if jealous friends tease her. Figuring this out before surgery is the key.
After surgery, support and encouragement are crucial. I used to think I could remove the dressings and sutures and send them on their way, as that is all I needed to do physically. It took a few minutes, then on to the next. I was wrong.

After surgery, patients can be nervous. They do not feel beautiful. They need my support as a person, not a doctor. And so I changed my schedule to leave more time for them. Because that is what it is all about- taking care of patients means taking care of people.