News & Features

Women Plastic Surgeons

While some women have worked as surgeons since the heydays of ancient Egypt, not many women doctors have elected to go into general or plastic surgery.

Actually, in modern times, not many women have gone into medicine at all. For instance, at the opening of the 20th century, six percent of physicians were women – and the percentage stayed right there for seven decades. The American College of Surgeons admitted one woman in 1913 and then, yearly, from none to five until seven decades later.

In 1975, more slots were dedicated to women medical students, thanks the woman’s movement and the passage of the federal Equal Opportunity Act. Consequently, women flooded into the healing arts. For instance, in 2001, women accounted for 28 percent of the total number of physicians in the U.S. while eighteen percent of physicians were males in the same age bracket. The day is rapidly approaching when there will be more female than male doctors.

Nonetheless, there are relatively few women plastic surgeons, even though many women patients who want some facial or body rejuvenation take special pains and go to extra trouble to find female practitioners.Michigan cosmetic surgeon

Says Mariam Awada, M.D. a plastic surgeon in Southfield, Michigan: “Significant numbers of patients in my state travel anywhere from one to five hours to my office for their procedures. Some have traveled here from Florida, Alaska, California, Ohio and other states as well as Canada.”

Those patients have been referred by former patients, sisters and parents, who also often live in other states. Thanks to the Internet, those people can see examples of Dr. Awada’s work through the before-and-after pictures of her patients posted on her website.

“As a bonus, women patients tend to feel more comfortable because I am a female,” she says.

What are other ways to locate a female plastic surgeon near you?

“A computer search is your best bet,” says Kimberly Henry, M.D. a plastic surgeon in Greenbrae, California. “Bring up any of the dozens of websites that direct you to plastic and cosmetic surgeons. If you don’t have a computer, the other way would be calling the professional associations, The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, American Academy of Facial and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery, the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery or The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery to ask for a referral."

Many patients ask what a female plastic surgeon brings to the table – at least when the patient is also female -- that may be overlooked by her male counterpart?

“I allow patients to feel comfortable, relaxed and talk freely about their concerns over their appearance without fear or embarrassment,” says Dr. Awada. “Patients undergoing office injections for collagen, Restylane, Radiance and Botox, say I am more gentle and calming throughout, turning a potentially frightening experience into an enjoyable one.”

California cosmetic surgeon Dr. Henry says the aging process is tougher on women because, she thinks, men look more distinguished as they get older.

“I know how women feel about their appearances,” Dr. Henry says. “And have myself been under the knife for some cosmetic procedures. And, there is always that bond; women will always be ‘sisters.’ Nonetheless, a plastic surgeon has to produce great results. Patients will always chose the surgeon -- man or woman -- who does the best job. After all, patients must live with the results.”

Dr. Henry has also heard many women patients say that more male practitioners just don’t understand nor listen as well.

And why did these women become plastic surgeons? Dr. Awada says she chose plastic surgery because her training as a medical student in plastic surgical reconstructive procedures was so rewarding.

”Now, as a plastic surgeon, I currently perform about 85 percent cosmetic and fifteen percent reconstructive procedures,” Dr. Awada says. “I have the pleasure of operating on young and old patients and on all parts of the body from head to toe, even though my specialty is breast and body contouring. The results are immediate restoration of form and function which is personally very satisfying.”

At least one study finds it may be a good thing when half our physicians are women.

When the Association of Woman Surgeons surveyed their members for the most common characteristics of female surgeons, they found women worked more clinical hours and on call nights than did male counterparts, did not experience too much stress, derived more satisfaction and had a higher personal income.

The authors also noted the women choose surgery because they had good role models and liked the intellectual challenge, technical aspects and decisiveness of enhancement surgery.

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