Are you looking to find a plastic surgeon who values an artistic perspective in surgery? “Plastic surgeons are not merely technicians, and our practices are more than a menu list of standardized operations,” says Dr. Richard A. Baxter of Seattle, Washington. Here Baxter discusses how a balance of science and art can lead to incredible plastic surgery results.
Art vs Science in Plastic Surgery
Oftentimes, art and science appear to be two very different realms, one whimsical and open-ended, the other precise, uncompromising and hard. While in general this may appear to be true, the creativity that drives art is the same that drives new scientific theories and accomplishments. “In plastic surgery, I feel a good artistic eye not only adds to the science involved, but creates a way to utilize surgical practices in the best way possible,” says Dr. Baxter. “Every surgeon should indeed be grounded in what we call evidence-based medicine, but I believe having a creative mind geared in the world of art can go hand in hand with the science to create wonderful results.”
How can an artistic eye help me?
The art masters familiar to us, like Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci, were talented not only for their painting ability, but for their excellent understanding of human proportions. “Ideal” human proportions make up classical western art portraits, giving them that look of perfection and elegance. Like Da Vinci’s mastery of color and drawing, plastic surgeons have mastered surgical procedures and, like Da Vinci, can take an artistic understanding of body proportions to make what many patients feel to be a masterpiece.
“I have always felt that my formal training in art, coupled with a belief in the scientific method, gives me a unique aptitude in plastic surgery. If a surgeon can master the principles and techniques of the science behind plastic surgery and use this in conjunction with an artistic perspective, they can create a outstanding opportunity for patients,” says Baxter. An example of where art versus science meet is with liposuction, or as some surgeons refer to it, liposculpture.
During liposuction procedures, surgeons are expertly crafting where fat is to be removed, much as a sculptor takes away from a mound of clay to produce art. Simply removing fat may not produce a desirable result, but removing fat with an artistic eye looking at achieving desired human proportions is important. On the other hand, says Baxter, the artistic approach has to respect the fact that manipulation of living tissues is not the same as sculpting in clay; paintings are not people. So does it really matter if your surgeon is an artist? As Dr. Baxter says, “Maybe someone should do a clinical trial to find out!”