Why Are All The Plastic Surgeons Men?

July 25, 2013 (PRLEAP.COM) Health News
FacesbyDrT.com - Westlake Village, Calif. Is it an illusion or is it for real? Is it true that all plastic surgeons are men, while the majority of patients are women? The latest trends in a world where cosmetic surgery is becoming increasingly popular are extremely enlightening. Dr. Tansavatdi recently opened Tansavatdi Cosmetic & Reconstructive Surgery in Westlake Village, CA, overcoming stereotypes and gender pressures to provide patients with what they wanted all along.

Just how popular is cosmetic surgery? Last year (2012) there were 14.6 million cosmetic plastic surgery procedures in the United States, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the world's largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons.

That's an increase of five percent over 2011 and includes both minimally invasive and surgical procedures. In addition, 5.6 million reconstructive procedures were performed in 2011-an increase of one percent.

Are There Really More Male Plastic Surgeons Than Female?

So who is performing all of these procedures? The faces of plastic surgery behind those surgical masks has for many years been predominantly male. Of the 8,100 board-certified plastic surgeons in the country only a little over 850 are women-just one in nine. But 91 percent of the patients are women.

Why the discrepancy?

Over the years there have been many hypotheses including the suggestion that women do not want to make other women attractive! The theory has also been advanced that women are ill-equipped to deal with the stresses of the job! But most experts believe that the number one reason might be the length of time that it takes to become so super-specialized.

A top fellowship-trained facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Kristina Tansavatdi, is a case in point.

Dr. Tansavatdi's career course included a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley. She went on to acquire her M.D. at Wake Forest University School of Medicine which was followed by internship and residency training in Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Utah School of Medicine. After all that she finished a prestigious fellowship in Cincinnati with Dr. Divinder Mangat, past president of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, allowing her to learn from one of the best in the field, and benefiting from his 30-plus years of experience.

Why Do We See Such A Difference?

At her office near Thousand Oaks, California, Dr. Tansavatdi discussed the reasons behind the disproportionate number of male versus female plastic surgeons.

She said, "First of all, there used to be more men in the medical field in general. Only in the last 10 years have medical school admissions become more equally weighted with men and women. Second, surgery residencies were longer, more stressful training programs and even after training the lifestyle for surgeons was not conducive to women who wanted to have a family. Women who wanted to have children tended to choose other fields within medicine such as pediatrics or internal medicine."

But times are changing.

Dr. Tansavatdi, who has contributed to numerous medical journals and textbooks within the field of facial plastic surgery and head and neck surgery, added, "There has been a shift in mindset in recent years. The mentality that women need to be at home with the children and allow the man to be the bread winner has changed. Women are now more likely to work with an understanding spouse who will support them during their strenuous surgery training program. When I started my residency program I was surrounded by men but by the time I had finished that was slowly changing. Today, there are more female role models in plastic surgery. It creates that motivation and that, 'Hey, if she can do it, I can do it' attitude."

Dr. Tansavatdi is too modest to say but she is one of those role models. And in addition she still finds time outside of surgery to be fully engaged in her local community, donating her time to a number of organizations. She is an advocate for battered women affected by domestic violence and has donated her time and services to FACE TO FACE: The National Domestic Violence Project. On top of that she has traveled further afield participating in medical missions around the world.

Do Female Plastic Surgeons Face More Opposition to Success Than Men?

Historically yes, said Tansavatdi, but there are definite improvements.

Drawing on her personal experience she said, "Our residency had two residents a year and my co-resident was a woman. This had never happened before. But when she became pregnant with twins it affected her mindset and she was afraid of the lack of time she would be able to spend with them, so she left. There was another female resident a few classes above me who had to take maternity leave and she came under a lot of pressure from male residents and faculty. I think they found it difficult to understand the significant strain of balancing training and residency with family life."

But there's an upside, too, to being a female plastic surgeon. "My female patients often confide in me that they chose me because they were looking for a female surgeon. They tell me they prefer a female surgeon because they feel women are more caring, warm, and more likely to listen and address their concerns," said Dr. Tansavatdi, whose patients like to call "Dr. T."

So what's in the future for plastic surgery?

Dr Tansavatdi said, "The percentage of plastic surgeons has increased over the last five years, but there is still a discrepancy. I would like to see more female surgeons, especially at the level of academia. A lot of ideas and research in surgery has been shaped by male surgeons and I think we need new approaches. Also, there have been a lot of studies that show patients prefer female doctors over male doctors and yet we still have a gap in the number of women in surgical fields. I think we should work to close that gap and provide people with good choices for their health care needs."

What about the rapidly changing face of health care in the United States? Dr. Tansavatdi had this to say: "I feel there will be more and more concierge level medicine available for those patients who can afford it. Patients have a choice in medical care and the ability to be a decision-maker gives them a strong voice in changes to health care. I think you will see a request for more quality medicine, with more time spent with the doctor and controlled spending of costs."

Dr. Tansavatdi recently opened Tansavatdi Cosmetic & Reconstructive Surgery in Westlake Village, just outside of Thousand Oaks, California. She specializes in facial plastic surgery, with a focus on balancing and correcting features of the face, head and neck. She is a member in good standing of both the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) and the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (AAO). She has been published in several highly respected journals including "Facial and Plastic Surgery," "Advances in Facial Plastic Surgery," "Journal of Cancer Management and Research" and "Laryngoscope."