Interview with Dr. Andre Aboolian
(L.A. plastic surgeon)
Dr. Andre Aboolian is one of Beverly Hills celebrity plastic surgeons. Renowned for his professional excellence and numerous TV appearances, he’s best known for his success as the plastic surgeon who’s helped Erik Chopin, the winner of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” by performing on him a full body lift after Eric’s record breaking weight loss. (Eric Chopin lost more than half of his body weight!) Dr. Aboolian has earned the respect of his peers who refer to him as the “body expert” for his mastery in performing post-bariatric surgery procedures. Even more importantly, his patients rave about his work Online and off.……. Needless to say, I was intrigued and lucky for us Dr. Aboolian found a moment in his busy schedule to speak with me, the Editor of Los Angeles Health Directory.
Editor: What inspired you to become a plastic surgeon, Dr. Aboolian?
Dr. Aboolian: It’s the attention to detail that’s required and the fact that each surgery is different unlike in general surgery, for instance. Another reason is that I work with healthy patients as opposed to non-healthy patients.
Editor: As opposed to emergency surgery?
Dr. Aboolian: No, it’s not so much about health as about a choice. Plastic surgery is elective; the patient chooses to have a surgery.
Personally, I don’t like hospitals. I would have a hard time treating ill children. I’m a father myself, I have two children. I am a physician and if called upon I will treat a child, but it would be an emotional challenge. However given a choice, I’d prefer not to treat children. I feel similarly about illness in general, I performed surgeries related to cancer and found them emotionally tough to confront.
These are the reasons that led me toward plastic surgery. I also appreciate and enjoy the creativity that’s involved.
Editor: Plastic surgery can be considered a form of art….
Dr. Aboolian: I believe that this is true in just about any profession. Be it fine art or craftsmanship, both require certain amount of know-how to get things just right and in both cases, there is some creativity involved. I like that.
Editor: What would you like to tell visitors of Los Angeles Health Directory about your work as L.A. plastic surgeon?
Dr. Aboolian: Plastic surgery is not what the common media portrays it to be. Plastic surgery is about……
Dr. Aboolian: In a sense yes, but so is putting on makeup in the morning, coloring hair, applying nail polish and so on. It’s all about making you look better. It is very subjective.
A lot of media portrays bad plastic surgeries, right now. I want people to know that there is a lot of GOOD plastic surgery and the good plastic surgery is the one you don’t see and don’t notice because the outcome is so natural and flattering. The difference should be visible only when you compare the before and after pictures of the patient. That’s good plastic surgery. If you can’t tell that the person’s undergone plastic surgery and looks great, that’s a plastic surgery well done. Unfortunately, the media portrays one bad plastic surgery after another.
Editor: Not necessarily, we often read and see fabulous results produced by skillful plastic surgeons.
Dr. Aboolian: That’s exactly what I want I want to say: plastic surgery is a good thing. I’ve seen a number of patients who have come for a follow up visit, today. They are very happy with the positive changes in themselves.
Editor: So are the patients who pay you compliments Online. You have an unparalleled satisfaction rating. Virtually all of your patients are giving you the highest grade. That’s extremely rare for any L.A. plastic surgeon.
Editor: I know that you perform full spectrum of plastic surgery procedures, including facial plastic surgery. I know also that your peers refer to you as the “body expert”. I know that one of your patients was the man who’s lost more than half of his body weight on TV’s The Biggest Loser………… Is that how you’ve earned this nickname?
Dr. Aboolian: Yes, I have operated on many patients who have lost significant amounts of weight. These are not easy cases. Such surgeries often have 7 and 8 hours duration. Not many plastic surgeons want to perform them and not many have the training to perform them well. I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from the best and when I started working on my own I’ve been achieving excellent results for my patients. From there, there was the liposculpture that got me this nickname. In patients who have lost massive amounts of weight, there is a lot of excess skin that has to be removed and body contouring is needed.
These are complicated procedures which I have performed many times and earned the recognition of my patients and peers who didn’t want to or couldn’t treat such difficult cases. That’s how the “body expert” came about.
Dr. Aboolian: Still that’s just one area of my practice. I perform a lot of breast surgeries, nose surgeries, and so on.
Editor: I read that Donda West (Kanye West’s mother) considered you for her plastic surgery. I know also that you declined because she didn’t obtain clearance from her physician. She was able to find another L.A. plastic surgeon who performed the surgery anyway and as we all know she died in the aftermath. Do you have any words of wisdom (or caution) for those of us who are considering plastic surgery?
Dr. Aboolian: The most important thing to know is that plastic surgery is no different than any other surgery. There is the misconception that plastic surgery is somehow different (safer) than a surgery performed in a hospital. It is really no different; you have to take all the same precautionary measures. The reason plastic surgery has always been considered safe is because the majority of patients are a part of the younger and healthier population. The health risks are therefore much less. But there is an unwritten rule that once you get to be 40 and above, the body starts undergoing changes and automatically whenever I see somebody who’s over 40 I ask them to see their internist (their family doctor) and to have a physical examination from head to toe to make sure that they’re healthy enough to undergo surgery whether the surgery is one hour or ten hours.
Editor: I believe that in the case of Donda West it was an extensive surgery; several procedures performed at the same time. Am I right?
Dr. Aboolian: Yes, but that’s not so much the problem. I think that it could have happened to anybody. I don’t know the exact specifics and I’m not about to point fingers at the physician. It could have happened even if all the precautions were taken. It was an individual case, and the individual wasn’t healthy enough to have plastic surgery, but as said it could have happen to anyone. There is no such a thing as a risk-free surgery.
Editor: Well, when we women talk about plastic surgery, we refer to it as “cosmetic surgery” and this is why we believe that like other “cosmetics” it is perfectly safe and risk-free.
Dr. Aboolian: That’s very true and again, I blame it on the media. People who are not plastic surgeons came up with the expression “cosmetic surgery”. I’m no different than any other doctor, be it a heart doctor, or an urologist. I’m a physician. It’s about the human body; it’s no different; it’s not risk-free.
Editor: What was your most gratifying experience as L.A. plastic surgeon?
Dr. Aboolian: This is a card I received from one of my patients, I’ll read you the last line: “but most importantly, thank you for helping me feel comfortable in my new body. I feel like a woman again, attractive and desirable.”
Editor: So it is about helping someone improve their self-image…
Dr. Aboolian: Yes, you could refer to it as vanity, but that’s not it. I have a three year old daughter and I have a six year old son. Females are different than males. My 3 year old already looks at herself in the mirror whereas my boy doesn’t even care where the mirror is. My girl asks me if I like the skirt and the shoes she’s wearing and my boy doesn’t care. So I think that it is very important for a woman – and not because of a man but for herself – to feel comfortable in her body and feel attractive. And if it means getting plastic surgery to get that feeling, than I feel it’s OK to do it.
This is a common story. I often hear that the procedure I performed on them has made them feel more comfortable, more confident, and feel better about themselves every time they look in the mirror.
The other day a patient of mine came to my office, with her mother and her 90 year old grandmother. And the grandmother every time she comes here sits in the waiting room and says “If they had plastic surgery when I was younger I would have gotten so much done, but I can’t do it now……….”
So having the opportunity and have it available to women in this country is a huge advantage compared to other parts of the world. I don’t think that women in other parts of the world are much different but they lack the opportunity…..
Editor: In Europe, for instance, plastic surgery has become quite popular in recent years……..
Dr. Aboolian: That’s true but not to the same degree as in the United States, or California, or Los Angeles and Beverly Hills in particular because of the movie industry and the weather. Here many more women strive for physical perfection.
One story that always stays with me, I operated on a sixty eight year old lady and she came back wearing a dress she wore at her engagement party nearly 50 years ago; she has saved the dress in the hope that someday she might be able to wear it again. And she said that the surgery I performed on her enabled her to wear it. It’s beautiful! I feel that I’m a bridge between where my patients are and where they want to go. And that’s really satisfying to me.
Well, it was an enlightening interview. Even though I conducted several interviews with plastic surgeons before, for Los Angeles Health Directory and other media, it was hard for me not to notice that Dr. Aboolian’s perception of his patients and his work is distinctly different from that of many of his colleagues.
Perhaps because he’s the father of a little girl, he has a rare appreciation of a woman’s psyche. (He’s right; a woman’s appearance is a source of her personal power.) He understands also that his professional contribution as a plastic surgeon is the means to a goal and the ultimate goal of the patient is to gain (or regain, as it may be the case) the sense of a better self. Combine these with his professional excellence and artistic sensibility and you’ll know that his impeccable reputation is well deserved.
Andre Aboolian, MD
120 S. Spalding Drive, Ste. 200
Beverly Hills, CA 90212