Meet the High Tech Plastic Surgeon
2009 was a milestone year for Dr. Shafer. He pioneered the Shafer Plastic Surgery app, the world’s first plastic surgery iPhone application, which offers more than 1,000 interactive Q&A’s on cosmetic procedures to educate consumers before they go under the needle or the knife. This foray into high tech is consistent with the mission of Shafer Plastic Surgery in Manhattan, which he established to break down the traditional doctor-patient barrier and create an environment where patients feel comfortable and relaxed. Dr. Shafer is double board certified in surgery and plastic surgery, and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Following his formal training Dr. Shafer did voluntary cleft lip and palate repair on children in Hanoi, Vietnam. Today, in addition to his full time midtown practice, Dr. Shafer continues to answer potential patients’ pressing plastic surgery questions on Realself.com, on topics ranging from Botox to Breast lifts, and everything in between. At the end of January, Dr. Shafer will deliver the first in a series of lectures at Apple on integrating Apple technology into medical practice.
Your iPhone app, The Shafer Plastic Surgery App, was first to market. What made you decide to launch it?
I have always loved technology and gadgets, so it is a natural evolution to merge my interests in plastic surgery and new technology. PDAs are a great source of digital information. The iPhone format allows easy access to a wealth of information that can be interactive and updated in real-time. Our patients are sophisticated and well informed. This application gives our patients another tool to understand the procedures they are considering.
How do you think this application works most effectively for the potential patient?
In most cases, patients have researched the procedures they are considering or have discussed with friends about their past experiences. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there on the Internet. This application gives patients access to up-to-date and accurate information about plastic surgery. It also gives them the opportunity to ask questions directly and provides links to additional information and photos on our website.
What are your signature procedures?
It really depends on the age of the patient. In younger patients, the natural curves of the body are often covered with years of bad choices in terms of diet and exercise. Liposuction and/or abdominoplasty can help restore or jumpstart a new toned body. In older patients, the face starts to fall and the neck loosens. Neck or facelift can help restore the soft tissues back to their natural and youthful position. In both young and old patients, the goal is to maximize the body’s own potential – accentuating the good and correcting the bad.
Which patient is the best candidate for Smartlipo?
Smartlipo is a great technology. In most cases, it is best for targeted areas such as the love handles, abdomen, inner thighs, upper arms or neck and chin. The laser allows the liposuction procedure to be performed under local anesthesia through very small incisions. Additionally, the laser helps reduce swelling and bruising, which leads to a quicker recovery in most people. We just started using the newest Smartlipo machine, the Smartlipo TPX. This machine has three lasers combined into one, which sets a new standard for laser liposuction.
Tell us about your travels to Hanoi, Vietnam to participate in the Global Health Organization’s project to repair cleft lips and palates.
On the wall in my office I have pictures of the kids that we performed surgery on being held by their smiling mothers. It is a constant reminder of how fortunate we are in this country and how the collective actions of everyone on the team can make a huge difference in an individual’s life. It is also a reminder that there is more to life than a few wrinkles here or there that require a 10x magnification mirror to see.
You’ve gone from the Arizona Burn Center to The Mayo Clinic to Manhattan Eye, Ear & Throat Hospital. In your medical experience thus far, how is the New York scene different?
My experience at the Arizona Burn Center and the Mayo Clinic set a strong foundation for my career in plastic surgery. The New York scene is like no other – it truly is the capitol of the world. Everyone is at the top of his or her game and patients know it and expect it. I step out of my office and look down 5th Avenue or up Madison Avenue and feel the pulse of the city, which constantly pushes for innovation and ingenuity. Every time I enter the hallways of Manhattan Eye, Ear & Throat Hospital, I stand in awe at the plastic surgery giants that preceded me. My hope is that I can contribute not only to the improvement of the individual patient, but to the practice of plastic surgery as well.