Conrad Bosmans talks with Newport Beach Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Eugene Elliott, about the importance artistry in Plastic Surgery.
Conrad: Welcome to Business Innovator Magazine & Radio Show,
I’m Conrad Bosmans of VAMO Media, and today we’re going to be talking to Dr. Eugene Elliot,
Dr Elliott is a California Board Certified Plastic Surgeon with offices in Newport Beach and Fountain Valley where he performs plastic surgery procedures such as breast implants, tummy tucks liposuctions and facelifts for patients who want to feel more attractive, confident and secure.
Dr Elliott, I know you bring a unique perspective that will resonate with many people in our audience. Why don’t we start by discussing the role that art plays in looking and feeling more youthful?
Dr. Elliott: Well, I have a bit of an esoteric and interesting background.
I was an art and literature major. So the art background kind of led me with , I had a facility for three dimensional work.
And, as I went through medical school, it became pretty clear to me that I could use that art background in plastic surgery much more creatively than I could use it in other medical specialties.
So I gravitated that way and it worked out very well.
And I think the art background also gives me a little bit of an edge in terms of aesthetic judgement.
We see a lot of what I would call overdone or unaesthetic plastic surgery outcomes.
And, I think part of the reason is that sometimes the eye of the surgeon is not sensitive enough to structure, bone structure, body structure etc.
Why an Artist’s perspective is key to looking natural
Conrad: That’s interesting. So, you’re saying that a strictly surgical perspective may not take into account all of the aesthetic considerations of a procedure?
Dr. Elliott: Yeah, so if you think about plastic surgery, it’s a bit of a form of sculpture, if you will.
But, with limitations.
Unfortunately, you can’t sculpt the body like you can sculpt a piece of wood or a block of granite. But, I think it helps to have a bit of that three dimensional sculptor’s eye when you’re working.
It all starts with the skin
Conrad: What are some of the ways that people can look more youthful?
Dr. Elliott: Well, we usually start with patients coming into the office. And, you’re absolutely right, patients do come in and they want to look rested and more youthful (and, they use those terms).
We start with the skin.
And, in Southern California, we see patients who have sun damaged skin. When they were younger, they were unprotected. And, as they age, you see the ravages of unprotected sun exposure in the form of pigmentation in the skin and face.
And, deep wrinkles.
So, the canvas (the skin) is addressed first. There are many ways we can improve the skin surface. Sometimes we use chemical peels. Sometimes (un-aggressively), we use some medicated creams that can bleach the skin a little bit.
And, just getting off a little pigmentation can make a patient look a little younger.
Getting more aggressive peels, we use what we call “laser resurfacing” to tighten up the skin a little bit and reduce wrinkling.
So, those type of modalities are a wonderful adjunct. But, we always start with the skin. You can do other things. You can straight to a face lift or eyelid surgery or whatever.
But, if you haven’t addressed the skin, the surface still looks old. So, you have to look at everything.
Why the “baby-oil” generation is especially vulnerable
Conrad: I don’t know about the rest of our audience, but I was cringing in horror as I though back to my days living at the beach in San Diego.
That was back in the eighties. When sunscreen was basically an afterthought. Heck, in the seventies, we were more likely to use baby oil.
Dr. Elliot: There you go.
Conrad: I hate to think what that did to our skin.
Dr. Elliott: Absolutely!
How to know if cosmetic surgery is right for you
Conrad: In light of all of that, how do people determine if cosmetic surgery is right for them?
Dr. Elliot: Well, I think it starts with an honest discussion with the patients.
What I mean by an “honest discussion” is that the patient in the course of the consultation has to understand what the limitations are. And, we don’t have a “magic wand”.
But certainly, with the modalities that we have available, we can improve.
So, if a patient is realistic. And, they understand. And, the surgeon is honest and ethical…at the end of that consultation, that patient will understand: “Okay, I can look a little freshened. I can reduce my wrinkle a little bit. I can reduce the pigmentation a little bit.
And, if I’m having any surgical procedures, I can look more rested. I can have less “skin-hang” over my eyes. Or the bags under my eyes improved. Or, my neck contour improved. And, my jowls improved….”.
Looking more rested and youthful vs radical transformation
Dr. Elliot: So, when the patient understands what can occur and what to expect (and, what can’t occur).
In other words, you can’t turn the clock back thirty years (on most patients). But, to use the analogy: “You’ll look more rested and you’ll look a little more youthful”.
Indeed, some patients who start off looking like their mother. And, when you’re done with them, their before pictures look like their mother.
So, I think it takes a thorough understanding of (first and foremost) the limitations of surgery.
And, if they’re comfortable with that, they proceed.
Education vs Surgery: how to avoid the pitfalls of the uninformed
Conrad: It sounds like your role as an educator and an advocate for your patients is key?
Dr. Elliot: Yes, it’s very important to be an educator for you patients (and an advocate at the same time).
And, the converse is important as well.
If you aren’t an educator. And, if you aren’t honest (as far as expectations are concerned) both you and the patient are going to be in trouble after surgery. Or, after a procedure.
Because, you’re going to have dissatisfaction. On the backside…that’s not pleasant.
The importance of a “Safety-first” approach
Conrad: What do you say to patients who are concerned about major surgery and recovery time?
Dr. Elliot: Well, I don’t downplay any surgical procedure. I think any surgery is “major”. And, first and foremost, safety is extremely important.
And, safety starts out with and assessment of the patient’s general health. Are they a good candidate for elective surgery?
Some patients aren’t.
Your medical history matters
Dr. Elliott: Some patients have high blood pressure that’s not controlled. Some patients have diabetes that’s not well controlled. Or other disease processes that don’t make them a good candidate for elective cosmetic surgery.
So, you have to get through the medical history. And, a lot of the time, I will ask for what we call “Medical Clearance”.
So, we’ll go back to their regular physician (if they have one), who knows their general health best. And assess whether they’re okay for elective surgery. And then, if they get through that initial rudimentary screening, we get lab work.
We make sure the lab work shows that they’re healthy.
Location, location, location
Dr. Elliott: And then, you get into the procedure itself:
- Where do you do it?
- How do you do it?
- Are you doing the surgery in an office “operatory”?
- Are you doing the surgery in an accredited “surgicenter”?
- Are you using a nurse anesthetist versus a Board Certified Anesthesiologist?
So, there are different levels of safety (in terms of performing an elective medical procedure).
Waking up is priceless
Dr. Elliot: My philosophy is you have to be as safe as you can. It might be a little more expensive for the patient.
So, when I take my patients to an outpatient surgery center thats:
- Has a Board Certified Anesthesiologist
- I know I would let put my family to sleep
They’re going to pay a little more than a surgeon who:
- Performs surgery in their office.
- Uses a nurse anesthetist.
Because, corners can be cut a little bit in cost. But, for me, safety is of utmost importance.
And when patience understand that concept, you get very little pushback. Because, quite frankly, they want to wake up at the end of the procedure.
Conrad: That’s a reasonable goal.
How to Know Your Recovery Time
Conrad: How do you handle recovery time and managing expectations there?
Dr. Elliot: Well, again, it takes a lot of honesty.
Some surgeons are pressed to book a lot of surgery. And, patients kind of learn about recovery on the back end (which is not a good idea).
So, it requires adequate time spent with the patient based on their profession and the demands of their work. An honest appraisal as to when the surgeon feels that the patient can get back to work.
So, there’s a difference.
Everybody is different: What you do matters
Dr. Elliot: Today I saw one patient whose sedentary. She..
- Works at a desk.
- Is in front of a computer all day.
- Doesn’t lift heavy objects.
So, she can get back to work more quickly than a patient I saw later in the day who’s:
- A traveling salesperson
- In and out of her car all day
- Driving over 150 miles a day
- Lifting heavy objects from her car
So, every profession has some limitation as to when a patient can get back and perform those activities.
Know Your personal timeline for “unveiling”, exercise and work
Dr. Elliot: But, in general, we give a very detailed description of what you can do in your recovery and at what point in your recovery you can:
- Go in public.
- Return to exercising (if you exercise).
And most patients, when they understand the limitations, they’re okay with it.
They’re motivated to get the results. So, they understand that it requires a certain amount of recovery and restrictions (like any surgical procedure).
The Patient’s Responsibility
Conrad: As I’m hearing you describe the educational component of this and managing expectations, it seems there’s an ongoing theme of:
Hey, it’s great if patients are lucky enough to have a doctor who is going to manage their expectations and educate them on the things the need to consider before they take a step like this.
But, patients really need to take it upon themselves to take some responsibility in the process.
Because if they don’t. And, they’re faced with a doctor who values surgeries over people….they could be in trouble.
The patients need to go through their checklist to assure they’re working with a surgeon who’s an educator and an advocate for their best interests.
Dr. Elliot: Yes, that’s very well stated
Who’s having Cosmetic Surgery
Conrad: Who’s having Cosmetic Surgery?
Dr. Elliot: It’s interesting. The demographic is very broad.
We see younger patients commonly come in for breast enhancement (it’s a very common procedure). Younger patients often coming in for liposuction and some body contouring.
By the way, when I see a patient for liposuction my first response is:
“You should be in the best condition you can be.”
And, if this is an issue of weight loss, I’d like you to get on a program of weight loss before you even consider surgery.
So, do the best you can for yourself:
- Get on a diet.
- Have an appropriate lifestyle.
- Don’t use surgery as a quick fix.
Middle aged patients: Maintaining an edge by staying youthful
Dr. Elliot: Middle aged patients (both men and women) feel that they’re losing a little bit of competitive edge.
Because, they’re starting to look a little:
- Tired and,
- Worn out.
So, they want to regain a bit of that self confidence and competitive edge. So, we’re seeing that middle aged population with:
- Facial surgery
- Eyelid surgery
- Facelift surgery
Always (in that middle aged group and younger patients) we’re doing: