An Interview with Plastic Surgeon Jon Sattler, M.D.
Dr. Sattler, What is your definition of beauty?
I don’t think that’s a relevant question. If an individual doesn’t fit the metrics of beauty – based on precise measurements – who cares? Each person has their own definition of beauty as it applies to the human face (or body), and these definitions vary widely across cultures – and even within a single family. On a technical level, a face may have small so-called flaws, but that’s irrelevant if the person doesn’t see them – and if they like the way they look. It’s become trite to say that beauty comes from the “inside,” but it’s an important element that contributes to what we experience when we call someone beautiful. Beauty also has to do with the way you perceive yourself, and the way you carry yourself. As a plastic surgeon, I know that every face is different and my goal is to bring the face into balance, so that my patients looks their best – as they define it – with results that looks natural.
What subtle changes make a big difference in the overall balance and attractiveness of a patient’s face?
Well, of course it varies from person to person, but there are certain predictable changes that occur in the face over time as part of the normal aging process. For example, the cheeks migrate downward, the nose elongates, the eyelids droop, and the skin loosens and sags on the face and neck. Subtle correction of one or more of these aging-related changes can bring the features of the face back into harmony, which will improve the overall appearance. But decisions to seek one or more of these changes are based on the individual patient: who he or she is, what matters to him or her, what he or she wants to have altered so that he or she feels better about the way he or she looks. If a person feels better about how they look, that will contribute to the overall impression they convey of being attractive and comfortable in their own skin.
Do you like to perform “big” procedures more than smaller procedures?
I don’t privilege a so-called “large” procedure over a smaller one – or multiple smaller ones. What matters is what the patient wants, what needs to be done to give the patient the desired outcome, and the fact that these decisions are always made with the patient’s well-being and safety in mind. If a patient doesn’t need a facelift, but will get the result they want from Botox, let’s say – perhaps combined with a chemical peel or a small facial implant – why would I do a facelift?
Dr. Sattler, you have an excellent reputation as a surgeon – in regard to the results you get and as a doctor who relates well with patients. Are you satisfied with all that you’ve accomplished?
I’m never satisfied. I’m always striving to do better. There’s always more to learn. There’s always more research to be done to determine what works best, to refine what we’re already doing, to evaluate new techniques, to fine-tune. And each patient is different. One will come in and just want one or more plastic surgery procedures and they’re very precise and sure about it. The next patient I see may want – and need – more from me: more understanding, comfort, and emotional support. This is what’s endlessly interesting about my work: getting to know each patient, and determining how I can best help them. There is no cookie cutter approach to performing plastic surgery. The work must be tailored to each individual patient – and to their unique face and body.
You have a national reputation and many well-known actors, writers, models, and producers have made their way to your practice. How do you handle the issue of confidentiality?
Every patient I see matters to me…and they are all equally important. The careful measures we take to ensure confidentiality and privacy for every patient is simply a reflection of that fact. No one is more important than anyone else. I’m honored to treat each patient I see. They put their trust in me, and it’s my job to help them reach their goals and to keep them safe and pleased with the care they receive.
Are you seeing more male patients in your practice in recent years?
Absolutely. A growing number of men have realized that it’s in their best interest to take care of themselves physically and they, like women, want to look good and feel confident in their appearance. An example of this is the rapid increase in the number of men who are requesting surgery to remove excess breast tissue. It’s a common problem and one that many men feel self conscious about. More men are choosing plastic surgery in general: facial plastic surgery, liposuction, and nonsurgical procedures, as well.
Dr. Sattler, you have been actively involved, on the state and national levels, with the issue of patient safety. What can you tell us about your work in this regard?
In addition to participating in international, national, state, and local medical education meetings where all aspects of procedures – both traditional and innovative – are evaluated and discussed, I am vocal in promoting only those tried and true procedures, techniques, and methods that safely benefit patients. I also consider myself to be a filter for the media, using my experience as a source of reliable information in response to the many news stories and reports out there about plastic surgery. There’s always something being called new and better and I feel obligated to inject reason and objectivity when the media calls for my opinion. Consumers deserve accurate information, and don’t get enough of it.
I am also involved with inspecting surgery centers to make sure they meet specific guidelines and protocols designed to protect patients and optimize their safety. I do this for the AAAASF (American Association for the Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgical Facilities), and also for the California Medical Board – inspecting certain surgical facilities for them when I’m called upon. This kind of thing takes up a tremendous amount of my limited time, but I do it when I can because unregulated facilities have been the cause of an untold amount of damage to patients.