The kindest cut of all

By Dinna Chan Vasquez

Florencio Lucero says the best cosmetic surgery is when you cannot tell if the person had anything done even after she’s been through two or three procedures.

“For me, the biggest compliment is when one of my patients is told that he or she must have come from a vacation because that person looks really good,” says the man who is considered the dean of plastic surgery in the Philippines.

Lucero, a two-term president of the Philippine Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons and our representative to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, has done more noses, breasts, eyelids and tummies than he can count but he refuses to do one thing that some of his colleagues like to indulge in: name-dropping.

“It is important for me that my clients are happy with the results of my work,” he says.

Lucero is said to be responsible for some of the country’s most beautiful faces, including showbiz personalities, socialites, politicians and their wives, members of the business community and many others.

He points out that the real plastic surgeons do not need to compete with those who have had very little training and compensate for this advertising. He says the best way for a doctor to “market” himself is by the result of his work.

Lucero has also received his fair share of weird requests from patients, like being asked by a man to change his face. At first, the doctor thought his patient was a fugitive from the law. It later turned out that he was running away from a fixed marriage.

So did Lucero go through with the surgery?

“Yes, I did, but not before making the patient understand the limitations of surgery and making him accept my recommendations of a noselift and eyelid surgery,” he says, clarifying that it is not possible for anyone to have his or her appearance altered significantly through surgery.

Lucero has also turned down patients whom he thought didn’t need surgery.

“If my patients believe me when I say they don’t need surgery, they go home smiling and happy. If they don’t believe, they go to another surgeon. Some of them have come back to me to say they should have listened to me but others continue to search for surgeons or non-surgeons who can give them what they want,”he says.

Lucero explains that aesthetic surgery deals with normal features that, from the person’s point of view, need improvement or enhancement. He says it is important for a doctor to point out to the patient that the surgery has limitations. “This has to be explained clearly because we don’t want the patient to have unrealistic expectations about the procedure.

A devoted husband to the woman he considers the best testimony for his work—his wife Tinette—and the proud father of three children, two of whom are studying to be doctors, Lucero defines beauty as “generally good physical appearance.”

“Good proportion and symmetry will greatly affect one’s appreciation of a beautiful person. Beauty in a person is influenced by the beholder to a large extent. One beauty queen defined beauty as 90 percent youth and the 10 percent, something one has to work on. Youthful appearance therefore is an important determination of beauty,” says Lucero.

He considers actresses Nicole Kidman and Catherine Zeta Jones two of the world’s most beautiful women but it is his wife Tinette that he says is the loveliest of all. “The appreciation of beauty varies according to who is appreciating it.”

Lucero’s mission right now is to put the Philippines on the medical tourism map. He says medical tourism has been going on for many years and started with plastic surgeons operating on foreign visitors or Filipino migrant workers on vacation.

Lucero says his wish is for the government to help implement a higher standard of care, with only certified plastic surgeons allowed to provide plastic and cosmetic surgeries. He explains that certified means the surgeon would have passed the plastic surgery board under the Philippine College of Surgeons.

Lucero has done his part for Philippine medical tourism by conducting lectures and fulfilling speaking engagements abroads.

“I want people in other countries to recognize that the Filipino surgeon is world-class,” he says.

Lucero, 60, also wants to continue his legacy of being an ethical and competent plastic surgeon so part of this advocacy is helping train other doctors. “I plan to continue to offer training programs to plastic surgeons here and abroad.”

SOURCE: Manila Standard

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