A Plastic Surgeon’s Conversation Draws a Mile-High Crowd

Steven Pearlman
Steven Pearlman

I don’t mind flying. But the delays absolutely make me crazy.

I usually try to arrive the night before when I have to lecture at meetings. That gives me a chance to unwind. Recently, I arrived at Las Vegas at 5 a.m. for a talk that started at 7 a.m. If I had been performing a procedure, there would be no way that I could, or would, have done it.

Actually, most of my travel involves medical meetings, lecturing or teaching. It’s important to keep up with things and to help train other doctors. So I don’t mind taking time away from the practice.

I also do some pro bono trips to developing countries, mostly to correct facial deformities. That’s extremely rewarding. Occasionally, I’ll even squeeze in a vacation, but I’m now the proud father of 3-year-old twin daughters, so those vacations are few

Last fall I flew to Milan to teach rhinoplasty at an international course. There were more than 700 attendees from nearly 60 countries. This was a huge event, and I spent the entire flight tweaking and retweaking my PowerPoint presentation, looking at it for what seemed like millions of times the entire time I was on the plane.

I was sitting next to this attractive woman. I was close enough to tell that she had had excellent plastic surgery. She noticed what I was doing and we began to talk. Before long I was knee-deep in a discussion about plastic surgery and youthfulness in general. Flight attendants and surrounding passengers were asking to see my photos, which included some before and after shots and some surgery, which fascinated a lot of the passengers, but grossed many of them out, too.

When flying home from a pro bono trip to Honduras, I had my surgical instruments like scalpels and surgical scissors in my luggage. It’s not like this stuff can go into a carry-on.

At customs in Miami, the agent opened up the instrument set, and questioned me like I was some kind of serial killer. It was really bad, and even though I was trying to explain why I was traveling with scalpels and other equipment, he wasn’t listening. Before I knew it, I was surrounded by security and their head supervisor. I turned on my laptop, which was already out, and showed them the photos of the children I had operated on. Everyone felt bad about giving me a hard time, and I actually got an escort to my gate. I’m sure that will never happen again.

I sometimes feel uncomfortable telling people I’m a “facial plastic surgeon” during a trip because it can make some people uncomfortable and others feel the need to put down the field. I had one fellow passenger tell me they “didn’t believe” in plastic surgery. I really wasn’t sure what that meant, and I didn’t go into a speech about how surgery can improve lives and how many of us do humanitarian work helping victims of domestic violence or those with birth defects.

But most people really are curious. And I don’t mind answering questions, especially if I can help educate people. I always get the question: What would you do to me? I’m always honest. There is always a responsibility to answer the call for on board medical help. I’m happy to help, and am up to date on C.P.R. and advanced cardiac life support certifications.

I once helped a flight attendant whose blood sugar was low. But by sheer luck, a primary care doctor or an emergency medicine physician has been among the passengers on other flights when crews have asked if there’s a doctor on board.  That was great, because I’m really better equipped to help in case someone needs an emergency nose job at 35,000 feet.

By Steven Pearlman – Source Click Here

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