Gregory R.D. Evans, MD, is just winding up his term as the president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, a group that represents more than 94 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Under his charge, the ASPS made significant strides in their campaign to promote awareness about breast reconstruction options following mastectomy—a subject that means a great deal to Evans.
The Chief of Plastic Surgery and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at University of California at Irvine, Evans is widely sought after for cancer reconstruction procedures including free-flap tissue transfer for head, neck and breast. He also specializes in the full spectrum of aesthetic plastic surgery, but unlike many surgeons in his zip code, Evans’ practice favors the reconstructive side.
“About 60 percent is reconstructive, and 40 percent is aesthetic,” he says. “The two areas I am most known for are breast reconstruction and specifically free tissue transfer and head and neck reconstruction. The knowledge gleaned from head and neck reconstruction also helps me in regard to facial aesthetic procedures.”
He spoke with Beauty in The Bag about what he does and why he does it.
What has the ASPS done for patients this year that you are most proud of?
The Plastic Surgery Foundation (The PSF), which is the research and philanthropic arm of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), supports Breast Reconstruction Awareness(BRA) Day, an initiative designed to promote awareness about breast reconstruction. This fall The PSF and ASPS will kick-off their national “Caring for Kids” campaign, designed to transform the lives of children suffering from physical deformities through the gift of reconstructive surgery and related healthcare services. Our celebrity spokesperson for the campaign is ESPN anchor Hannah Storm. The kick-off will include a private charitable concert performed by Grammy Award-winning recording artist Sheryl Crow that will be hosted by The PSF and San Diego-based Fresh Start Surgical Gifts. The PSF is more than just an opportunity to supply money for research and grants. We are really trying to change the focus of the foundation and look at how we might fund surgeries that people need, but can’t afford or have limited access.
What are some of the most exciting developments on the breast reconstruction front?
We continue to be able to modify and improve the transfer of tissues from one part of the body to another. The use of fat injections for breast reconstruction is evolving. There is also a whole new market of implants that have come out that are more formed and as we get more familiarity with them, we will continue to make breast reconstruction better.
What is the procedure you find most challenging?
Facelifts are challenging. Here, you have someone coming in who is paying cash for a procedure and you are operating on an area that everyone will see. The slightest defect or misplaced suture and you have a very unhappy patient. That’s pressure!
How do you define beauty?
It really boils down to each individual. We are trying to restore confidence and improve each person’s self image. Instead of having an overarching definition with numbers and mean width of the nose or chin, it really boils down to self confidence for each individual
We’ve all seen the TV shows like the Real Housewives of Orange County, but what do beauty seekers in the O.C really want?
I don’t think people want anything different here. They want to look like they haven’t had plastic surgery. People in California are more health-conscious and may start earlier than people who live elsewhere. They start with Botox or fillers or lasers for the skin or other minimally invasive procedures in their late 30s or 40s.
What drives Californians to seek plastic surgery?
They may be more in tune with what’s out there, and want to continue to look youthful. The job market also plays a role. We have a lot of people coming in who don’t want to look 50 or 60 because they need to get or keep jobs.
Speaking of the unsteady economy, are you seeing an uptick in men wanting plastic surgery?
Yes. When I was a resident, we didn’t operate on any man who came in wanting cosmetic surgery because we saw it as a red flag that he was not psychologically fit. This attitude has completely changed. Men are becoming more and more conscious of how they look in the workplace and many have gone through divorces and are looking for a new wife or girlfriend so they want to look young.
How would your recommend a person find a plastic surgeon?
They can go on to the ASPS website and click find a plastic surgeon. All US and Canadian surgeons listed in this service are board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. It’s not just board certification’that’s important, but which board did the certifying. Also, ask the surgeon about their training and how many procedures they perform annually.