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Daily Inspiration: Meet Catherine Chang

Today we’d like to introduce you to Catherine Chang.

Hi Catherine, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Growing up in New York City and seeing a lot of overdone plastic surgery, I never wanted to be a plastic surgeon. I thought the profession consisted of superficial clientele that idealized looking like barbie dolls and that the industry was filled with doctors that were not always focused on patient care. In my mind, I thought plastic surgery consisted of overdone lips, wind-swept faces, and oversized implants. Fast forward a decade later to my earlier years in medical school…I soon discovered boy, was I WRONG!

In medical school, I learned that plastic surgeons were one of the most respected surgeons that all other surgical specialties oftentimes relied upon. Plastic comes from the Greek term “plastikos” which means to mold and to shape. Plastic and reconstructive surgeons operate on the entire body – from head to toe, from nerve and blood vessel repairs to fixing and plating bones. Plastic surgeons help transplant surgeons by anastomosing (sewing and hooking up) the blood vessels to the newly donated organ, close wounds for cardiac surgeons that got infected and required “flap surgery” – a complex procedure requiring moving tissue from another part of the body and did reconstruction for cancer surgeries. In a nutshell, one can say plastic surgeons are the “badasses” of the hospital.

After I realized how dynamic the specialty was and how deeply plastic surgeons centered their practice on patient care and reconstruction, I decided to apply for a plastic surgery residency. Many of my mentors thought I was technically gifted and also encouraged me to become a plastic surgeon during this time. Coming from an Ivy-League medical school, I thought that this application would be similar to my application for college and medical school…I was wrong again! Plastic surgery residency was the toughest residency to apply for with the lowest acceptance rate. Lower than neurosurgery and cardiac surgery which I thought were the most competitive specialties at the time.

I landed at my top choice program at UPENN where I was trained by some of the best plastic surgeons in the field who demanded technical perfection from the trainees. I then pursued additional training in Craniofacial Surgery at Harvard University. This hyper sub-specialty focused on the reconstructive and aesthetic surgery components of the face. There are very few craniofacial surgeons in the country and even less female craniofacial trained plastic surgeons.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
This has not been a smooth road. Medicine is still a field that is predominantly male. Less than 20% of plastic surgeons are women, despite women making up 92% percent of patients undergoing plastic surgery. And within the 20% of female plastic surgeons, even less are facial plastic surgeons. While the gender gap is starting to narrow, gender roles are definitely still a struggle for many female surgeons. They are expected to still look good after working 36 hours straight, take care of the household, and also take care of their patients. Additionally, patients often treat female surgeons differently than they would treat male surgeons. In addition – I have found that in Los Angeles advertising and branding is extremely important to be successful in plastic surgery. With parents that raised me in a culture to be modest – I often find it difficult to speak about and promote myself. Another ironic struggle is that patients often want to look young, and yet because I look younger than my age – I am often penalized for that and have patients questioning my credibility. However, I have come to learn to let my work speak for itself.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am a plastic and reconstruction surgeon specializing in facial plastic surgery. This consists of both aesthetic and reconstructive facial plastic surgery as well as non-invasive treatments. I specialize in natural and elegant facelifts, neck lifts, rhinoplasty, eyelid lifts, and facial cancer reconstruction. In the plastic surgery community, I am most well-known for my elegant and natural results. The majority of my patients who work in Hollywood are on camera and I take pride that no one has been able to tell that my patients have had plastic surgery!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
I am in the process of developing a new skincare and mask line that will be launching later in the year called NakedBeauty MD TM. The premise of the line is to use premium and clean ingredients to help people feel confident and radiant in their own skin without the need for make-up or filters. I am very excited for the launch of my line!

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