Body Sculpting by Dr. Lucero, the Michelangelo of Surgery

Body Sculpting by Dr. Lucero, the Michelangelo of Surgery
(Excerpted from a forthcoming book, Competing With Giants, with permission from the author. All rights reserved.)

With a graceful curve, the hand of Dr. Florencio Q. Lucero, plastic surgeon, undulates in the space between us. He is tracing the sinuous contours of an eyelid as he describes what he regards as "the most stressful of all surgeries" for the plastic surgeon: cosmetic. It is most difficult because its success or failure depends not so much on the objective scientific paradigm as with most things medical in nature, but on someone else’s subjective sense of beauty – the patient as beholder. In that sense, then, cosmetic surgery is the most customer-driven of all medical procedures: its beauty lies in the eyes of the patient.

I had bumped into Dr. Lucero, a classmate in college, in a coffee shop in Ortigas Center. With him was his wife Tinette, mother of their three children, 15 years his junior, but looking a good 30 years younger. For a minute I wondered if she had been the object of the good doctor’s ministrations, but one does not ask those kinds of questions in polite society – you just assume it as a given fact.

Since school, Dr. Lucero had gone on to become one of the most successful plastic surgeons in the country, if not the most famous, at least the most respected. He was leaving for Singapore in a few days to deliver a lecture on – what else? – his practice and to rub elbows with the best and the finest plastic surgeons in our neck of the woods. I casually mentioned that I was in the middle of writing a business strategy book for budding entrepreneurs and marketing professionals and would be delighted to include a chapter on the burgeoning industry called cosmetic surgery. Tinette was gracious enough to have me over for lunch at home when they returned from Singapore.

Now, over a delicious dessert of mango ice cream swimming in the sweetest mango puree available, Dr. Lucero tells his life’s story. He wistfully recalls the sage advice his father, a businessman, who reminded him always not to charge “too much.” Medicine is a calling more than a profession, the elder Lucero believed with all his heart, and this value – he would be happy to see now – is deeply imprinted in his son, Dr. Lucero, the plastic surgeon.

Dr. Lucero attributes his experience, recognized internationally, to his parents' values, the teachers who mentored him, and the specialized training he received along the way, covering a period of nine years. He had always dreamed of becoming a surgeon – an excellent one – but what brought him to plastic surgery was a series of serendipitous events that led him to what he really liked most to do. He was a surgeon first of all, and he did the usual stuff at the Philippine General Hospital, but along the way he received special training in the United States in reconstructive surgery, specializing in burn patients, a very difficult procedure to master. This led to cosmetic surgery. Cosmetic surgery, he explains, is actually a branch of plastic surgery, but he does not recommend it for everyone.

“It looks simple, but it is not,” he says over coffee. It begins with God-given talent, ample amounts of it, “which you can discover along the way,” he says. But that is just the beginning. The raw talent must be honed by training under the masters. Like a sculptor beginning with a block of raw marble, the plastic surgeon masters the craft, turning stone into the stunning pieces of a Michelangelo.

“But plastic surgery is immensely more difficult,” he says, “because you are working with living tissue, turning it into a thing of beauty. This is where the aesthetic sense of the cosmetic surgeon comes into play. It begins in the eye, the surgeon’s artistic sense. And it ends in the mind of the patient, her own self- image and what she considers beautiful. In the end, it is the patient’s satisfaction with the results of the creative process that brings the ultimate joy to the surgeon – the satisfaction of being able to do beautiful things.”

Dr. Lucero continues: “It’s all in the planning. The moment I visualize the plan and draw the lines, the process is practically over. From there on, it’s all a matter of technique and procedure.” For Dr. Lucero, keeping abreast of worldwide trends is key to the cosmetic surgeon’s art. Occasionally, he is called to the Health Care City in Dubai to perform procedures on some high-heeled European and Middle Eastern clients. “Overseas exposure changes your paradigms,” he says. “It is also important to learn from the masters. Abroad, they always refer to the masters. And the younger surgeons not only refer but also defer to the elders. We haven’t learned to do that here.”

"Another thing we have to learn is that cosmetic surgery is not meant to change your looks into some celebrity's looks. It is meant to enhance your natural beauty, to bring back the beauty of your youth." How do you know you are in the hands of a real professional? "It pays to do some research," he says. "Check the credentials. Talk to previous patients. Is the surgeon certified by the College of Surgeons or by the medical association? Has he had extensive training here and abroad?"

For emphasis, his hands trace delicate curves when he speaks. They glide in the air gracefully, yet confidently. They are the hands of a true master of the art.

Michelangelo would be proud of Dr. Lucero’s art: a thing of beauty is a joy forever.

  1. What is Body Sculpting?
    Body sculpting is liposuction to proportion the body. The aim is not weight loss but re-shaping to get the beautiful proportion of the body to look youthful. The upper body is made proportional to the lower body, using the waist and hips as sculptural points of reference.

  2. What is Silhouette-Soft Touch Body Sculpting?
    The soft touch body sculpting utilizes ultrasound energy to melt and soften selectively the fats to enable a more gentle suctioning, sparing the vital structures from injury, thus resulting in less bruising and pain and faster recovery. Silhouette describes the artful shaping of the body much like in the art form of cutting out an image – silhouette.

  3. What areas can Silhouette be applied?
    Silhouette may be applied to the whole body. Aptly, it is artfully used for the upper body and the lower body. The upper body is divided into three areas – the abdomen, the back, and the arms. When all three areas are done together when indicated, this achieves a proportioned reshaping of the upper body.

    After at least six weeks, the lower body may be done. This includes the hips [love handles], the saddlebags, and the inner and outer thighs. When completed, this should give an aesthetically pleasing silhouette of the body both in nude and in clothes.

  4. Who performs the Silhouette Body Sculpting? Where? What kind of anesthesia is administered?
    Silhouette Body Sculpting is best done by a plastic surgeon trained to use the ultrasound-assisted machine (VASER) to emulsify or melt the targeted fats prior to aspiration or suctioning. This is done either under local anesthesia with intravenous sedation or general anesthesia.

  5. What are the patient benefits of undergoing Silhouette – the soft touch body sculpture.
    The soft touch body sculpture using the ultrasound assisted machine benefits the patient. The patient experiences less pain, less bruising and shorter recovery time because the ultrasound energy selectively melts the fats and much less of the veins, nerves and other adjoining structures.

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