From the Corner Office
Recently, my son Daniel sent me a link to a podcast that he thought I might enjoy. It was an Ezra Klein interview of legendary music producer, co-founder of Def Jam records, and former co-president of Columbia Records, Rick Rubin. It was fascinating to hear his philosophy of creativity and it got me to reflect on my own approach to the creative process, which I have come to realize is my most fundamental professional attribute.
Rubin discusses the importance of being fully present and free from distractions as a critical component of his creativity. Likewise, for me, the concept of being fully present is essential. Regardless of what else is going on, when I am with my patients that is all I am focused on.
The process of creating positive physical change for my patients, which often translates into improved self-esteem, starts with an in-depth listening session with them to understand their motivations, desires, and expectations. This is followed by a detailed, measurement-heavy face and neck evaluation. I created this unique assessment more than 25 years ago to assure myself that no feature is overlooked, as the face is an amalgam of its many parts. I quantify each feature, including a multitude of facial contours, bone structure, skin color and quality, muscular activity, teeth, hairline, hair color and overall aesthetic strengths and weakness in a very codified manner. This affords me the ability to “look” back and literally visualize the face even if it has been many years since the consultation. I take the same approach, with even more granular detail, when evaluating a nose. This is a very left brain, logic-heavy activity. I then synthesize the information and marry it to the patients’ concerns to create a plan of action which we then discuss. It is always important to address patients’ primary issues, though after explaining my findings, it is not uncommon for the patients’ priorities to evolve and change. As many of you who have had a consultation with me already know, once we come to an agreed upon course of action, we sit together in my office and review some clinical before and after examples to provide insight into the benefits of specific interventions as well as my artistic sensibilities.
For me, my creativity gets to take center stage when I translate my vision into action. It is time for my right brain to take control and artistically translate the plan into action. The most important artistic lesson I have learned during my career is that facial beauty is measured in millimeters and that attention to artistic detail is critical to delivering consistently beautiful outcomes. Of course, facial plastic surgery is not solely an artistic endeavor, one needs the anatomic knowledge, aesthetic tools, techniques and surgical skills necessary to create the desired changes safely and consistently.
Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of caring for my patients is that I am fully present and engaged whether I am with them in consultation, in the treatment room, operating room or post-operatively. I often find that hours pass in the operating room though it feels like only minutes. Like Rubin, I get lost in the work, committing whatever time it takes to achieve the desired outcome. It’s great fun and immensely satisfying.
Stay Healthy, Stay Beautiful!
Seth A. Yellin, MD, FACS
Founder & Director, Marietta Facial Plastic Surgery, Laser & Aesthetics Center