Dr. Lauren Greenberg is a plastic surgeon in a boutique solo private practice in Palo Alto and Menlo Park, California. Her office is now in Menlo Park. (For 21 years she was on Welch Road on Stanford’s campus, where she did her Plastic and General Surgery residencies.) The new office offers more space and privacy. In addition to her two surgical residencies at Stanford, she completed additional fellowship training specifically in cosmetic and breast surgery. She is a member of ASPS (American Society of Plastic Surgery), ASAPS (American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery), and Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
What is a plastic surgeon?
If you go to Wikipedia, plastic surgery is a medical specialty involving “the restoration, reconstruction, or alteration of the human body, divided into two categories: reconstructive and cosmetic.”
The shocking thing is no one regulates who calls themselves a plastic surgeon. In a study published in our journal, only 25% of people calling themselves a plastic surgeon were actually trained and board certified in plastic surgery (!).
You might have heard the terms plastic surgeon and cosmetic surgeon used interchangeably, but they’re not the same. Technically, plastic surgeons are unique from both general surgeons and cosmetic surgeons because of their training. Plastic surgeons are surgical doctors who complete additional specialized training in reconstructive surgery to get extensive experience in improving the function of the face, body, and skin. Our training includes microsurgery, free flaps, and pediatric surgery. It focuses on aesthetics as well as function and reconstruction.
There is no certified board of “cosmetic surgery.” See my blogs here and here. Locally, in the bay area, there are people practicing plastic surgery who are not trained as surgeons, or they only did a one-year surgery internship.
Why should you care? Because training is important. Your health and safety are important. Understanding the nuances of procedures, knowing who is a good candidate and who is not, being able to recognize issues early, doing the right procedure to achieve your goal, and knowing when you can’t fix something—these are critical to having a successful surgery.
Why should I choosea female plastic surgeon?
Even now, with 50% of medical school students being women, only 11% of plastic surgeons are women. On the other hand, 90% of plastic surgery patients are women.
Why pick a woman doctor? I know many men who are great surgeons. But when picking a doctor, you need to find someone who you are comfortable with. Many women find it easier to be honest with another woman. I have had the experiences my patients have. I have bought jeans and tried on bathings suits. I have had three children and seen the changes from pregnancy and breastfeeding. Where pulls when you put on yoga pants? What bulges when you wear a form-fitting shirt? Those nuances we as women know well. We share the same body and generally experience the same process of aging.
Board Certification and why it matters
Choosing the right plastic surgeon for you is so important. I would strongly advise patients to choose a board certified plastic surgeon, as this is one of the best ways to ensure a safe and positive outcome. Plastic surgeons who are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery have completed the requisite training to be a plastic surgeon, passed an intensive examination, and are committed to remaining at the forefront of their field with continuing education courses. Rigorous standards of care and ethical treatment are maintained by the board, and plastic surgeons must recertify every 10 years to keep their board certification.
How to select the best plastic surgeon for you
Choosing a plastic surgeon is a very personal decision. You should follow your instincts during the process to find “the one” for you. Some ways to narrow down your search:
Board certified in plastic surgery.
Extensively trained in the procedure you’re interested in (ask how often they perform the technique), and who has significant experience performing the treatment.
How do you feel during the consultation? Does she answer your questions fully? Are you meeting with the doctor directly or with someone else? Do you feel you are getting a customized plan unique to you?
Do they talk about the options, the pros and cons, and the risks?
Do you share the same aesthetics? Look at the before-and-after photos.
You should feel comfortable with your potential physician, and she or he should make you feel as confident as possible about the approach.
I have been in practice since 1999 and focus on spending time one-on-one with my patients. I advocate for personalized, individual, educated decisions for my patients, and I understand the changes to the body from the surgeon’s perspective as well as that of a woman and mother of three. As the daughter of a plastic surgeon, this has been my lifelong passion.
I am a physician myself, so I'm pretty picky when it comes to finding a surgeon. I can without reservation recommend Dr. Lauren Greenberg as an ultimate professional.