Life Imitates Art

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Cover Story
June 2002

An Interview with Plastic Surgeon and Sculptor, Ronald M. Friedman, M.D.

Prior to entering private practice in 1996, Dr. Friedman served as Chief of Plastic Surgery at the Memorial Hospital and Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery at the Southwestern Medical Center. After graduating with Honors from Northwestern University Medical School, he completed his general surgery and plastic surgery training at the Southwestern Medical Center. Dr. Friedman has numerous journal and textbook publications, national presentations, and radio and television interviews to his credit. He has written invited commentaries for the Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Plastic Surgery Outlook. He has been the recipient of honors and awards from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, and the states Society of Plastic Surgeons. He is Board Certified in Plastic Surgery.

What got you interested in Plastic Surgery?
During high school, I watched a television program about Burt Brent, M.D., a famous plastic surgeon who reconstructed ears by carving rib cartilage. I had been carving wood and marble for a few years and was intrigued by the idea of using art to help people. I went out to visit Dr. Brent for a few days. As I watched him work, I said to myself, “I bet I can do that.”

Does your experience as an artist help you as a plastic surgeon?
I believe that the traits that make a good artist – creativity, patience, and persistence – also make a good plastic surgeon. Having an eye for proportion and detail is helpful both in the workshop and the operating room.

What cosmetic procedures do you perform?
The most frequently performed surgical procedures in my practice are breast enhancement (enlargement, reduction, and lifting), body contouring (liposuction, mini and full tummy tuck), and facial surgery (facelift, eyelid lift, and nasal reshaping). We also offer non-surgical procedures, such as microdermabrasion, Botox injections, permanent makeup, and skin care.

Do you also do reconstructive surgery? And why?
Cosmetic surgery comprises the majority of my practice. But I continue to perform reconstruction for women with breast cancer, facial reconstruction, hand surgery (in which I completed a one-year fellowship), and skin tumor removal and reconstruction. I think that these are important services that plastic surgeons provide for our community. I also believe that doing reconstructive procedures, especially challenging tumors and trauma, helps me to refine my skill in performing cosmetic surgery.

You are obviously very busy. What attracts patients to your practice?
My staff and I go out of our way to provide a relaxed and friendly environment that puts people at ease. We take the time to thoroughly address every concern and question, never rushing patients through the consultation. We have extensive before and after photographs, and we are always happy to provide references for patients considering cosmetic surgery. Most of our patients are referred to us by physicians, nurses, and other patients.

How involved are you in the day-to-day care of your cosmetic surgery patients?
Although I have a very capable staff, I recognize that people are placing their trust in me to provide their care. In many practices, the consultation is done primarily by a cosmetic surgery coordinator, closure of surgical incisions is done by a nurse or physician’s assistant, and postoperative visits are done by a nurse or medical assistant. In contrast, I remain commi