Interview with Dr. Anthony Griffin, ''Extreme Makeover'' Surgeon

 Dr Griffin

Dr. Anthony Griffin, renowned plastic surgeon and author of Surgery Without Scars: A Worry-Free, Multi-Cultural Guide to Plastic Surgery, has been featured on E! Entertainment, Access Hollywood, and CNN, in addition to his work on ABC's Extreme Makeover. He has also been featured in a number of other television shows and magazines.

Dr. Griffin's innovative procedures and philosophies regarding cosmetic surgery have been shaping the world of plastic surgery for over a decade. Despite his hectic schedule, he was willing to take the time to share some personal information with LoveToKnow for this special interview.

Meet Dr. Griffin

LoveToKnow (LTK): Dr. Griffin, please tell us a bit about your background.

Dr. Anthony Griffin (AG): I am 46-year-old male who is a Beverly Hills board-certified plastic surgeon, grew up in the small town of Kenosha, Wisconsin. I went to school at Brown University in Rhode Island for college, and then for medical school, Washington University in St. Louis, where I received, also, a Masters Degree in Pharmacology and then did general surgery at the University of Chicago. And then studied plastic surgery here at the University of Southern California, where I elected to stay and entered practice in 1994 here in Beverly Hills. Primarily, my focus is on cosmetic surgery. However, I do have extensive background in reconstructive surgery. I also travel around the world to third-world countries and operate on kids with cleft lip and palate.

LTK: Why did you decide to pursue a career in plastic surgery?

AG: I have always enjoyed artistic, creative activities. And at an early age, I knew I was going to be a doctor. I had a younger brother who had asthma, and so we were in and out of emergency rooms for most of when I can remember growing up. So, I think I saw an article in Ebony magazine when I was in junior high school that featured five African-American plastic surgeons. It was at that time, I decided I wanted to do that.

Extreme Makeover

LTK: You have been featured on ABC's Extreme Makeover. Are there any special challenges you face as an Extreme Surgeon?

AG: Extreme Makeover was a very important challenge for me because it was not only just doing surgery, but it was doing it with an audience of six million people a week, and taking patients who had to look good in a very short period of time. I think that challenged me as a surgeon, made me a better surgeon. It also made me realize that the limitations I thought I had as a surgeon really were not there, and it sort of pushed me to the next level.

Surgery Without Scars

LTK: Your book, Surgery Without Scars: A Worry-Free, Multi-Cultural Guide to Plastic Surgery Today, addresses many apprehensive concerns of cosmetic surgery. What inspired you to write the book?

AG: Essentially, Surgery Without Scars was just a compendium of what I tell my patients on a day to day basis. It is sort of evaluating their apprehensions, their concerns. Also, the concerns that I see in the media that particularly ethnic patients have concerning plastic surgery. I wrote that book prior to being on Extreme Makeover, and so I think people now have a better visual sense of what plastic surgery is all about and that it does not necessary change your ethnic identity.

LTK: Is there anything you would like to add about the book?

AG: There is going to be a new edition coming out soon - don't ask me when.

Cosmetic Surgery and Identity

LTK: Can you describe your philosophy on beauty regarding plastic surgery and identity?

AG: My philosophy is that there are two different types of plastic surgery. One is vanity plastic surgery. That is the plastic surgery that most people think of when they think of plastic surgery, of cosmetic surgery. Then, I think there is self-esteem surgery. People are born with certain distractions or have distractions that take away from their confidence and their ability to engage in life.

So, I think that on ABC's Extreme Makeover, we really focus on self-esteem surgery, and that certainly ends up being the most rewarding. My philosophy on beauty is that you really have to know - I look at it from mostly an artistic point of view. You really have to be a careful observer of people. You have to know your different ethnic groups, your different races. And I believe in surgery that will result in a natural look. My idea of success is that people will look at you and not know that you have had any surgery done - the comment that you look better or you look fresher, more relaxed, and things like that.

LTK: What are the most common concerns patients have regarding plastic surgery?

AG: The two most common concerns patients have are number one, they want to look natural, and number two, they want to retain their ethnic identity. We assure patients that that will be the case. I think understanding different skin types and how they respond to surgery and healing is very important.

I also think it is important to understand the patient's own esthetic. I don't try to impose my esthetic values on an individual patient. And I spend a lot of time trying to understand and look at their old photographs or photographs of people they admire in the public to get a sense of their esthetics. Once those two esthetic senses match up, then I think we are in business.

LTK: Do you feel that America is moving in a more positive direction regarding perceptions of beauty?

AG: I travel all over the world, and I think that people's perception of beauty is pretty much the same all over the world. People want to look the best they can be. I do think here in America specifically, it is much more of a multicultural aspect of beauty, less northern European.

Signature Procedure for More Shapely Buttocks

LTK: One of your most popular procedures is the Brazilian butt lift. Can you tell us about this procedure?

AG: This is a procedure that involves taking fat from the patient's body, and particularly for people who have flat buttocks, we process this fat and use it to lift their buttocks and fill it out. It is a very popular procedure. It is very simple to perform. The recovery is very quick. It is really two procedures in one. It involves doing liposuction and then body contouring.

Plastic Surgery Advice

LTK: What is the number one piece of advice you would offer people considering surgery?

AG: I would say the biggest thing that you have to do is have high levels of trust in the relationship between you and the surgeon. That is really important. Remember, you are not just getting a technical procedure. You are really handing over your esthetic future and the future of how you look to an individual. I think it is very important to know as much about that individual, the surgeon's individual esthetic sense, as well as the reputation. And certainly, you want to work with someone who is board certified.

Dr. Griffin and Operation Smile

LTK: You have been involved in Operation Smile for a number of years. Can you tell our readers more about this organization?

AG: Operation Smile is a volunteer organization of doctors, nurses, dentists, and therapists who go around the world to developing countries, operating on kids with cleft lip and palate, primarily. It was started in 1982 by a plastic surgeon, Dr. William Magee, and his wife, who is an RN, Kathy Magee. I have been involved with them since 1995. It is an all volunteer organization. We usually spend about a week at a different site and operate usually from 7 AM to 7 PM. And typically, we end up operating on about 130 kids.

A team consists of between 40 to 60 members. We bring equipment, and we also interact with the local physicians, and they are also involved in the mission.

LTK: What is the most rewarding part of your career?

AG: The most rewarding part of my career is really the Operation Smile, giving back, practicing medicine really in its purest form with no remuneration. The payback that we get is the satisfaction, knowing that we are making a difference in a kid's life forever.

For More on Dr. Griffin

For more about Dr. Griffin, please visit his website: Dr. Anthony Griffin: Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon. This features more information about Dr. Griffin, information and photos for his cosmetic procedures, and a question and answer section.

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Interview with Dr. Anthony Griffin, ''Extreme Makeover'' Surgeon