Sculpture and Surgery: a brief autobiography
Plastic surgeons and cosmetic surgeons routinely advertise that they can “sculpt” your features: your nose, your tummy, even your breasts. Patients routinely request a “chiseled” jawline. Who would want to have liposuction when you can have liposculpture?
The sad truth, however, is that most surgeons are not actually sculptors. There are no art classes offered in medical school. And if your surgeon, by chance, has a background in drawing or painting, these are 2-D activities which poorly translate into the 3-D world of surgery.
By contrast, I am fortunate to have extensive experience in wood and marble sculpture. I took shop class in 7th grade when I couldn’t figure out what else to take for an elective—and I fell in love. Soon I was spending 60-hour weeks in my workshop during high school summers. It got really exciting when people started buying my sculptures: first neighbors and eventually strangers. Then I started displaying in shows and galleries.
At some point toward the end of high school, I had to make a decision: pursue art and music (my other major endeavor) or pursue academics. I decided to pursue medicine, in general, and plastic surgery, in particular. Plastic surgery was and continues to be the closest that I can come to doing sculpture for a living—and still be able to make a living. (You’ve heard of starving artists, but you probably haven’t heard of starving plastic surgeons.)
Does this mean that I can sculpt your body? Not really. Surgery is not sculpture because the human form is far less predictable than a block of wood or marble. Unlike any other medium, human tissues are fragile; can become scarred, infected, or bleed; and change contour as they heal.
Does this make my background in sculpture useless? Of course not. Every day I have to make decisions during surgery. While some of these simply require a good tape measure or caliper, others require something more elusive: an artistic eye.
I sincerely believe that my background as a wood and marble sculpture has helped me become a better plastic surgeon.
For more information about breast augmentation–including more photos, please visit www.plasticsurgerydallas.com
Ronald M. Friedman, M.D.
Director, West Plano Plastic Surgery Center
Former Chief of Plastic Surgery, Parkland Memorial Hospital, Dallas