Meet Him in the Heights
Since his medical training days at Columbia Presbyterian, Dr. Yager has envisioned establishing a center of excellence in cosmetic plastic surgery of the face, breast and body that specifically meets the unique needs of the Latino community. His Washington Heights practice, Yager Esthetics, is the fulfillment of this vision, and it will soon increase in size to include a full scale esthetic center. Dr. Yager’s fluency in Spanish gives patients that extra bit of comfort, and his 13 years of consulting with over 20,000 Latin patients has cemented his commitment to the practice mantra: En la comunidad, para la comunidad – In the community, for the community.
What sets Yager Esthetics apart?
We were established to be the premier practice for cosmetic plastic surgery and beauty for the Latino community in the New York area. Our mission at Yager Esthetics is to educate our patients as to the most advanced and sophisticated treatments available which do not compromise patient safety. Our goal is to be the best and most trusted cosmetic plastic surgery and beauty practice regardless of ethnicity.
What made you choose to set up your practice in Washington Heights as opposed to Park Avenue?
During my training in plastic surgery at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, we would see patients in the emergency room virtually every week with serious and sometimes life threatening complications from plastic surgery done overseas, or in the back rooms of spas and salons, performed by dubiously qualified providers. As the only Spanish speaking plastic surgeon at Columbia, I became a trusted specialist among the Latino community. They confided that it was not just because of lower cost that they avoided Park Avenue, it was also because they did not feel welcome in an office where only a secretary spoke Spanish and had to translate for the doctor. None of the other patients looked like they did, and the office literature and instructions were not available to them in Spanish.
I was all set to join a practice in Florida when the Latino community of New York made it clear that they needed a doctor here, in the community of Washington Heights. They needed someone who was well-trained, bilingual, and had an office that welcomed them with similar faces, along with an understanding of their unique beauty ideal. Add in reasonable fees, a true love of the community, and a world class AAAASF certified facility, and you have Yager Esthetics.
You’re about to unveil a major extension to your practice — a 3,700 SF center — on May 3, 2010. Tell us about it.
With our existing office space across from Columbia Presbyterian, we will have nearly 6,000 SF. This marks our second expansion since we opened in 1997. As with our existing space, we spared no expense in creating a cutting edge, esthetically beautiful center for the Latino community. Having this much needed additional space will allow us to offer advanced laser treatments and extended skin care and spa services at the Y Spa, tailored for Latino skin. Even as this interview goes to print, we continue to evaluate new technologies to insure effectiveness and safety before we ask our patients to spend their hard earned money. Just because it appears on TV or on the news does not guarantee that a procedure works. Just because it works on Caucasian patients doesn’t mean it is safe for all skin types.
What procedures are your personal specialties?
While I like to believe I do everything well or I don’t do it, the most common procedures I do are liposculpture (often with fat transfer to create a rounded buttocks), abdominoplasty (or tummy tuck) and breast implant and breast lift surgeries, often combining them in what people call a “Mommy Makeover.” Given my experience, I am able to safely combine multiple procedures with special techniques to reduce the time under anesthesia and lower risks.
How does your understanding of this community’s beauty ideal, and Latino culture in general, play a role in the work you do?
There is no one beauty ideal, as Latinos are such a vibrant and diverse community, and so I learn from my patients to avoid assumptions. In my 13 years of private practice, I have focused on creating proper curves, and balancing the body with an eye on the total patient, not just fixing one area and leaving the rest out of proportion. I communicate extremely well with my patients to insure that I understand their specific body ideal. As with any practice, the key is listening. I have consulted on over 20,000 Latino and Latina patients already, so that helps, too.
What makes a Latino patient different from other patients you have treated, in terms of wishes, expectations and preferences?
I can only generalize, which isn’t entirely fair. The differences are not solely in the desire to be beautiful; this is universal. My patients have tended to have children at a younger age, and are more accepting of plastic surgery as a normal part of life – not a secret to be whispered carefully. The Latina patient wants a dramatic change, is more likely to do multiple procedures at one time, and wants to be noticed, without outward signs that the change was due to surgery. Music, dancing and clothing choices for special events love to accentuate curves, and so that is the key to success – shape and balance.
What does “En la comunidad, para la comunidad” mean to you and your practice?
In the community, for the community is very special to me. It is the reason Yager Esthetics exists in Washington Heights, and continues to grow. While any medical practice needs to make money to survive, my office is not solely focused on financials. I do not want any patient to have to go overseas or risk their safety for beauty, as I saw during my training at Columbia.
I am honored to be a part of the Latino community. My wife is Latina and we have two daughters who mean the world to me. Every patient I see in my practice is treated the same way I would treat my own family. I spare no expense to insure the safest and most caring experience for any patient that comes through my doors, regardless of ethnicity or income. As my practice continues to grow, both in physical space and online presence, I will guard with honor the trust placed in me by my community.