The past: Early in my career I thought that being a plastic surgeon was all about making people look better. Face-lifts, nose jobs, cosmetic office procedures—I viewed these as tools to enhance a patient’s beauty. After having had the privilege of treating thousands of patients, my views on this have shifted quite a bit. In particular, this change occurred after I reconstructed the nose of a young woman who had much of the nose removed to treat an aggressive skin cancer. Once she recovered after several stages of surgery, she thanked me for returning her back to her life. That she was finally able to feel happiness and joy again. That’s when I realized that I should be in the business of making people feel better about themselves and not simply to look better.
The present: So now every time I meet with a patient in my office, I am thinking what I can do to make that person feel better. How I can make that individual happier? This has made all the difference in the way I approach each patient. I find myself listening more carefully to their goals and paying more attention to what it is that makes them tick. I have tried to construct a practice that is patient-centric and not one in which the game-plan for treatment is dictated by me. I find that I am now able to make such a connection with each patient beyond that of a cosmetic surgeon and client, but one that embodies a true doctor-patient relationship. As a result, I believe I have happier patients and I myself have found much more personal gratification in my work.