Dr. Richard Brown: Creating a holistic approach to surgery

Plastic surgeon Dr. Richard J Brown M.D., F.A.C.S.  of Brown Plastic Surgery isn’t like most doctors. He was not born with an innate desire to become a physician; in fact, he didn’t realize he wanted to be a doctor until he was almost through with college. His parents owned a company selling computer systems to medical practices to help automate their billing and reports, before the dates of electronic medical records.

“I thought I’m going to work for them, and something just didn’t feel right for me,” says Dr. Brown. “I was sitting in the library one night (at the University of Georgia), studying economics, and I was like, ‘this is so boring.’ I remember pushing back from the table and saying, ‘I can’t do this. This isn’t for me.’ ”

He always felt interested in science, so he enrolled in a chemistry class along with his business courses. Dr. Brown received an A in that chemistry class. “I had like a 2.6 GPA at that point,” he jokes.

That science course was the turning point. He took another science class and received another A. He decided that he would like to do something in the medical field, so he volunteered as a patient transporter at a nearby hospital.

“I started to like that relationship I was developing with patients, so I said, ‘I think I’m going to be a P.A. or something,’ ” remembers Dr. Brown. “I sat down, and I mapped it all out, and through that process, I decided to just go to medical school.” And then he thought, “If I’m going to do it, I’m going to be a doctor.”

This ambition was only further fueled when his pre-med advisor told him he’d never make it.

It was during a gap year while working as an orderly in the operating room, between his pre-med classes and continuing to his medical degree at The Chicago Medical School, that he discovered he wanted to be a surgeon.

Dr. Brown was doing his general surgery residency in Chicago at Mt Sinai hospital when he started networking with physicians from Northwestern University who came to perform trauma and reconstructive surgery. They invited him to do research with them at their wound healing and scarring research lab. He spent a year working at Dr. Thomas Mustoe’s lab at Northwestern. “That’s what solidified that plastic surgery was what I wanted to do – after talking about it with them, and being there,” says Dr. Brown.

He transferred to Northwestern and became certified by the American Board of Surgery in general surgery. Dr. Brown then went on to complete his residency training in the field of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

Dr. Brown is a double board-certified surgeon. As he explains, “I sat for my written and oral boards, so I am a board-certified general surgeon, then I did two years of plastic surgery and sat for those boards. I carry two boards, but I never practiced general surgery. I went straight from general into plastics.”

Although all surgeons are board certified, they may not be board certified in plastic surgery. Wanting to educate people about this fact led Dr. Brown to write The Real Beauty Bible: Navigating Your Journey through Plastic Surgery.

“I needed to shed some light on what it means to be board certified,” he says. “Not only that but if you want to have a procedure, you should be able to pick this book up, read all three parts … and put it down and have an overall global view of the process of having a procedure.”

In the book, Dr. Brown covers the different types of procedures available, how to choose a surgeon that’s right for you, the financial options available for surgery and what to do before and after surgery.

He says the shortest description of this book is, “You’re having a consultation with me to have a procedure. Everything that I would tell you in a consult, and more, is in this book.”

Making sure that his patients have a positive experience and successful outcome is a priority for Dr. Brown. He also realized that many people need to change aspects of their lifestyle before having plastic surgery. Almost seven years ago, he took matters into his own hands regarding his health and lost a lot of weight and got into shape. Through this process, he learned about nutrition, and he found that he was approaching patient consultations from a different perspective.

“I found myself consulting with patients who weren’t ready for surgery, and it turned into a whole talk about this is what you need to do to get ready for surgery, to get the best result, this is what you need to do,” says Dr. Brown. “You need to change your mindset; you need to change your lifestyle so that when you have that tummy tuck, you are now going to have a long-lasting result because you now have things in place before surgery to have a successful, long-lasting result.”

This approach has spurred a new goal for Dr. Brown. During 2020 he would like to move into a larger space and create a “wellness center” for his patients. He wants to partner with a nutritionist who will develop a meal plan for each patient, and coordinate with a food-delivery service that will deliver the food, alleviating the stress of purchasing and preparing food. He also wants to have a gym in the office with a personal trainer so that everything is under one roof.

“I want to bring this holistic idea to the practice,” says Dr. Brown. “Where we are not just thinking of you as a patient who needs surgery, we’re thinking of you as a person who needs to be globally treated to get ready and be successful with your results.”

He wants to be the practice that doesn’t just operate. “What if I told you that I’m a plastic surgeon and maybe you don’t need surgery,” he says. “It just frees their chains to be able to be who they’re supposed to be.”

For more information on Dr. Brown and Brown Plastic Surgery, visit richardjbrownmd.com.


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