Plastic surgery is more than just reconstructing or repairing parts of the body. It’s also about giving back to people that need help and enhancing their lives. Living in California and growing up in LA, Dr. Payman Danielpour wanted to be a singer and be in movies and films. Once he went to school for that, he realized there’s a different calling for him. Dr. Danielpour found joy in being a plastic surgeon and providing beauty and reconstructive work for people whose lives have been taken away from them through accident or some other reasons. He joins us today to talk about how he started his practice, the different ways to become a plastic surgeon, botched surgeries, the fallacy of the American Board of Cosmetic Surgeons, and the future of plastic surgery.
Listen to the podcast here:
Plastic Surgery: Reconstructing Lives with Dr. Payman Danielpour
I’m super excited to have my good friend, Dr. Pay from the Beverly Hills Plastic Surgery Group joining us for a great episode on beauty. Who’s obsessed with beauty, how we look, what we look like and what we will look like? Welcome, Dr. Pay.
Thank you. I’m very happy to be here.
How are you?
I’m doing great. How are you guys doing?
I always feel a little bit like, “Do I look okay when I see Dr. Pay?” I feel like there’s going to be a full judgment.
We want a little bit of background. Did you always want to be a doctor even as a child? Is that something that was inbuilt in you from the get-go?
A little bit. I had a grandfather that was a physician for about 70 years. I’ve watched him and I wanted to be exactly like him. He was a family doctor. He wasn’t a surgeon. I took a different route, but that was my inspiration. I also wanted to be in the movies and film. I wanted to be a singer. Living in California and growing up in LA, it makes you want to do that. I realized once I went to school that there’s a different calling for me.
Did you feel going into plastic surgery would be more fun, sexy or glamorous? Was being a family physician, not all that glam? What was the appeal?
It wasn’t just the glam. I wanted to work with my hands. Either way, I wanted to become a surgeon. I don’t have the patience to sit there and listen to people telling me what’s wrong with them. I want to fix the problem. Originally, I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon, but I realized that it was more like being a carpenter and using hammer and nails. When I went in to do some rotations with plastic surgeons, I realized that they’re the happiest. Their patients were the happiest and you could do everything from beauty, reconstructive to doing congenital malformations of the face, cleft lips and palates. It’s giving back to people that need your help and also helping people who necessarily don’t need your help, but just to enhance their lives. There are so many aspects of what I do that are enticing and made me want to go into this profession.
Which part of all that you were saying do you enjoy most?
I love doing cancer reconstructive surgery because you give life back to people after they feel it’s been taken away from them. That’s the top of my list. I love taking care of the kids as well and that’s how Dani and I met. Her son had gotten into a little bit of an accident with another kid playing and had a little cut on his face. They came to us and when we fix it for them. It was very easy and we took the stress out of a very stressful situation and I love doing that.
I have to say that they were amazing. Thirty minutes later, twenty stitches across Zane’s eye, lying on the bed with a lollipop in his mouth. I was equally as happy. I walked into this surgery with two gorgeous men and head to toe Prada suits. I was like, “This is not a bad way to spend 5:00 PM on a Friday afternoon.”
That’s exactly what we try to do for people. Instead of it being super traumatic, something that they look back on and say, “That wasn’t that bad.” We try to do that with everything. The cosmetic part, I always joke around about it, but it’s something that’s necessary so we can pay the bills for everything else. Although I love doing cosmetic surgery, it’s a lot more handholding than some of the other stuff that I do.
How did you meet John? Tell us the story.
My partner, John Layke and I, we met during the interview process. We’re both fully trained general surgeons. There are multiple different ways to become a plastic surgeon. We did it the old-fashioned way where you have to train to become a general surgeon. We are accredited general surgeons. We went and did a plastic surgery residency. When we were interviewing for plastic surgery residencies, we ran into each other. I’ll never forget because I looked across the table and I go, “This guy looks too normal to be a doctor and much less a plastic surgeon.” We just hit it off and we became good friends. A stroke of fate and luck came together and we ended up getting into the same plastic surgery residency in which we then lived together. I proposed for him to come out to LA and work with me. It’s been many years and we hung a shingle, so far so good.
The way you started out, you both started doing all surgeries together and then you both got super busy and that changed over time. Tell them the story that you told me about how you started out with your practice.
The uniqueness of our practice is that we still work together very frequently. Before, we had nothing else to do. We’d hold each other’s hands for all of our surgeries. His concentration of what he likes to do is from the neck up. He likes to do rhinoplasties, facelift, upper eyelid and lower eyelid surgery. I liked doing breast and body surgery. What we do is we tackle some of these bigger cases together. When we first started, we didn’t have as much business. Any case we did, we’d assist each other. Now, it’s more the big cases that require a lot of the time. We cut the time in half by having two surgeons work together.
Generally, what’s the most common procedure you get asked to perform?
Together we do a lot of work called mommy makeovers. Mommy makeover consists of putting back what’s happened after pregnancy. The breast sag, they get smaller, there are excess skin and skin laxity of the abdomen. Sometimes there’s what’s called the rectus diastasis, which is separation of the muscle. Most of the time we’ll do some breast surgery, whether it’s breast augmentation and a lift combined with a tummy tuck and some liposuction to restore pre-pregnancy body. We do that together very frequently because we feel like why not? We can do it in half the time. He did a facelift on a lady and I did a tummy tuck at the same time. We do things like that at the same time. If I split it up and say, “What do we each do most frequently?” I probably do revision breast surgery most frequently and he does rhinoplasties most frequently.
Going on revision work, what would you say is the most difficult surgery to do? What’s the most complex?
The most complicated surgery for me cosmetically is people that have had multiple breast surgeries and they come to you to fix it. They’d have scar tissue, one breast is different. You never know what people started with. They’ve had multiple surgeries elsewhere and then they come to you. You don’t know where the minefields are. You’re going in and completely unknowingly what’s been done. Trying to restore form and function to areas that have already been changed. To me, doing revision, breast surgery with capsules or lifts with implants.
Just to elaborate on that, do you find that people have these expectations because you know they’ve had one, two or three botched surgeries. Do you find their expectation is they come in and they see you guys as the miracle workers and you’re finally going to be the ones to make this perfect? Do you think people’s expectations are different to what’s real?Everybody wants to look better because it makes them feel better. Click To Tweet
That’s probably the hardest thing and the most important thing to instill in every patient when it comes to plastic surgery. It’s realistic expectations. If they don’t have it, we very frequently tell them that we can’t help them because we’re not miracle workers. We’re not God. There’s only a limitation as to what we can do, especially with the tissue that’s given to us and the fact that we live on planet earth and there’s gravity. Some of the stuff that we do can’t last forever. People have to understand the limitations for all of it. That’s something that every single patient that comes in here, we set up very clearly and right away. Because if they don’t have realistic expectations, not only are they going to be let down, but it’s going to not be a very good relationship with the doctor and the patients.
Will you say no?
If I can’t help the patient, I’m not going to do it. If I don’t think I can give the patient what they’re looking for, there’s not a chance. I’d rather step back and say, “Go see someone else. Maybe they can do it and my skills aren’t good enough for you.” Rather than take something on without knowing that I can fix it or improve it significantly.
Talking about botched surgeries, you hear these stories of people going down to Mexico, Thailand, and all these random countries because they think they can get it for a third or an eighth of the price. Are you seeing a lot more of these botched surgeries coming in?
It’s interesting you say that it doesn’t have to be Thailand. It doesn’t have to be Mexico. It can be done right here in LA. The biggest problem in the United States is any doctor can do any surgery. I’m a board-certified plastic surgeon. I’ve done my training and I’ve taken my boards. This is something I know how to do. I had a patient that came in that had a tummy tuck done by gynecologists and wanted me to call the gynecologist so she could get her money back, so she can have revision surgery with me. I said, “It’s not my problem. You can go do it yourself.” You see this a lot because there’s this new made-up board called the American Board of Cosmetic Surgeons, but there’s no such thing. This is something that everyone should be educated with and about.
Tell us the difference.
If you want to have plastic surgery, makes sure that they are board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. There’s no other board that certifies. There’s no Board of Cosmetic Surgery. It is not anything. It’s basically a weekend course that anybody can go do and become a cosmetic surgeon and then go ahead and do a breast augmentation. I see a lot of those botched surgeries and it’s unfortunate because people don’t know better. They go on a website and it says that they’re board-certified and it doesn’t say that they’re board-certified by what? The doctor will say, “I’m board certified. Look at the plaque behind me. It says American Board of Cosmetic Surgery,” which is just a quack and it’s horrible. There’s no regulation and it’s very difficult because people don’t know. I do see stuff from Mexico. There’s a patient that I saw that had silicone beads inject them into their butt and had a horrible reaction to it and they have to take those out. It’s the Wild Wild West when it comes to cosmetics and what people are doing in the US and crazy outside the country.
Talking of beads in the butt, is that the biggest trend right now? I thought that was a joke. Whenever I was going, “This one’s got a butt implant.” I’m like, “Why?” We spend years trying to make our butt small, high and tight, not make them big and rotund. It’s like a complete shift, isn’t it? This is a real thing.
Unfortunately, it’s because you have to look at who the role models are. Your role models in this world have become reality stars or Instagram models. You’re not looking at real people anymore. The reality is the pseudonym. It’s not real. If one reality star has a big bomb, then everyone else wants to go after it. There is a great procedure, it’s called the Brazilian Butt Lift. If done in the right hand it can look nice. You do liposuction of areas that have fat, remove the fat and inject the fat into the buttocks. It can change a person’s appearance significantly, and it doesn’t have to be overdone. I think butt implants are horrible. I don’t do them. They can shift, they can look very strange. PMMA is the silicone substance that people are injecting. That’s an absolute no. It ends up coming out of the skin. It has a lot of foreign body reaction and it has a lot of complications.
Do you have people coming in saying, “I want to look like X, Y or Z celebrity?”
Who’s the most common one?
It depends on what they’re coming in for. If they’re coming in for breasts, it’s Emily Ratajkowski. If they’re coming in for face or nose, it’s always Kim Kardashian.
Not as much, but maybe Kendall because she’s so pretty. Kylie’s had so much work done that it’s a little different. A lot of Kim and depending on which Instagram model you want to talk about, then they’ll pull up pictures and show you. When it comes to it, these reality stars get the nod these days.
Talking about Kylie and how young she is and still is and was when she had all this work done. What is your take on plastic surgery and injections and everybody starting super young? I don’t know about you, Tara, but when you thought of facelift when we were there, that was something you did when you were 60. Plastic surgery was reserved to when you would go to your senior years and it needed to happen. You started seeing the trend of breast lifts and more vanity procedures. They’re starting at eighteen, nineteen and twenty. What do you say if they’re too young?
I think also though we live in a city where it’s all about perception. It’s all about how you look. I think if you’re living somewhere else, it’s not necessarily at the forefront of everyone’s minds in the same way that it is here. People are always asking for tips and tricks as to how to not age and how to look their best as they get older. Clearly LA is the place where everyone is primarily focused on their appearance.
You’re right about that. I trained in New York, so I was taught the subtle art of plastic surgery, the subtle art of anti-aging. Just to start with what Dani said. It is very unfortunate that people are injecting fillers into teenagers, eighteen-year-old, nineteen-year-old. I think that starting facial injections such as fillers at a young age can only prematurely age you. I don’t think it’s a necessary thing. I think the doctors that are doing it are doing a disservice to the people, but I do think that there are things that younger people can do to halt the progression of aging. Eighteen, nineteen and twenty, I don’t think they need that. Once you get in your twenties, I tell people sometimes that’s the ideal time to start Botox if done right and what we call it Micro Botox, very small amounts. That’s when we can slow the progression.
When you’re in your 30s, you have no lines in your upper forehead or around your eyes. If you want to slow down aging processing and keep yourself looking good, that’s great, but if you’re going to change your appearance, that’s a different story. It can prematurely make you look older. If you look at some of these people that have a ton of filler in their face, in my opinion, they don’t look better, they look older. I do think that the practitioners that are doing this are doing a major disservice to the patients. At the same time, Tara, I do believe that LA is very different. Everyone’s in the spotlight and they think that they’re in Hollywood. Even though if they’re nobody, they want to be somebody. They want to make themselves look like they’ve had some stuff done. It’s very different, and I think the pendulum swings a lot. They used to be people wanted big breasts and they want to show it out. It’s changing a little and people are coming in and saying, “Take my implants out. Make them smaller. I want it to be a little less assuming.” I’m hoping it’s changing a little, but LA for sure is very different than the rest of the world.People getting super obsessed with every tiny little thing has to do with selfies and looking at themselves on social media. Click To Tweet
Let’s talk about LA and trends because we probably are ahead of all the other cities in the world because it is so prevalent here. Let’s talk about the trends that you get asked and you’re seeing in your industry and also what you’re seeing less of or more. Let’s elaborate what you were talking about and men as well, because I know that’s a big jump for you.
LA is different. We’re on the forefront of everything. When things come out first, they come out in LA. When people do things for the first time, it’s always done in LA. LA is very different, but at the same time it is Hollywood. A lot of the people that are getting stuff done at the right places, you’ll never know they’ve had anything done, but they look amazing. It’s knowing where and who to go to and what to do rather than how much to do it. LA will always be the place that’s going to set all the trends, whether it’s the way you look or the way you’re acting or what you’re driving or what you’re wearing.
If you are looking forward and looking at new kinds of plastic surgery, what would you say is the future for plastic surgery?
I got back from this big meeting in San Diego for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and all the numbers are showing that non-invasive procedures are the way to go. Instead of jumping to have a facelift, there are things we can do with technology that can slow the progression of aging. Using radio frequency skin tightening.
You need to elaborate for layman terms of us regular people. What does that mean and how is it done?
The radio frequency is just heat based therapies to tighten skin externally like a warm, hot stone massage on the face once a week for six weeks where it keeps your jaw line nice and tight. It keeps your neck nice and tight. Anything that we can start treating people that will induce collagen production without having to make them look different. A lot of people want procedures that are done that have no downtime yet are going to give them the best bang for their buck. Things like Emsculpt, which is the greatest machine that causes a muscle building in the abdominal region. It was on Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Kim Kardashian was doing Emsculpt for her six pack. Simple, easy 30 minutes session. You leave and it builds muscle by 20%. There are things like CoolSculpting that freezes the fat without having to have liposuction. There’s microneedling with PRP for the face to induce collagen. What’s happening is instead of everyone running to get surgery, people do things where they’re going to give them their best self without looking super different.
Those kinds of practices, are they affordable for the general person?
It depends on what affordable is. Keeping yourself looking good costs money. I wish it was that easy, but these machines are very expensive, so the treatments are also on the more expensive side. It all depends on who it is. For some people it’s nothing, for other people it’s a home. It all depends on what you’re looking for, but they’re typically much less expensive than doing surgery. It all depends on what your motivation factor is to make yourself look a certain way, but I think you can achieve that goal one way or another without breaking your bank.
Do you find that the more popular these procedures are getting, you hear about people in the suburbs, in the countryside of England getting all these things that you thought were only reserve for LA, New York and the big cities, it’s becoming very common? It’s like going to the dentist they say.
It’s readily accessible. You have to realize everybody wants to look better because it makes them feel better. That’s the key. The way you look generally if you look better, you feel better. People do this for that reason. It’s not any other reason. People realize it taps into their inner self. If you can get your best self out there, it’s going to make you feel better. It’s going to make you achieve more. Therefore it’s everywhere. People can’t go from the suburbs of London into London for a procedure. The smart person that can set up a shop over there will actually benefit from it.
If your feet is so shallow, we’re adding value to being shallow. It’s not so shallow anymore then. Is that what you’re saying?
I don’t think there’s any shallowness to wanting to keep yourself looking as good. It’s like saying, “Why do you work out?” It makes you look good and feel good. That’s why you do it. It’s not necessarily that you’re shallow, that you want to have a six pack. I’ve seen you before. You’ve got a fantastic body and you’ve got two children, but you’ve worked on it because it makes you feel good. It’s a combination of that. You go in and get regular facials and you go get treatments to your face to keep you looking the same yet as good as possible. I don’t think it’s necessarily shallow. If you’re overly obsessed with it and you do so much to change the way you look, that I think it falls into the shallow.
Let’s talk about obsessive people. What’s the freakiest thing that anyone’s asked you to do? Let’s have some fun stories.
There’s a lot of crazy stuff. A patient came to me and said that she wanted me to take two different implants that were incredibly big and stack them on top of each other so she can have an enormous breast. I’m like, “Go somewhere else.” People that want significant amounts of filler put in their lips or their cheeks. In my opinion, it makes people look deformed, but people will do it. I do think people get obsessed and they look in the mirror so much that they’re like, “This right eyebrow is lower than the left. How can we fix that? I’m going to the doctor.” People don’t realize that if you split the face in half, no two sides are exactly alike. People are getting super obsessed with every tiny little thing. It has to do with selfies and looking at yourself on social media, looking at yourself on your own pictures and picking yourself apart. That’s half the problem. People will like to go overboard. In our practice, we don’t get too much of that because people know we’re very conservative.
What would you say is the most common form of surgery that men come in and ask for? I would presume, and correct me if I’m wrong, that the majority of your clients are women rather than men.
Things have changed, but I would probably say it’s like 75/25 split. There still is one out of four people to come through here are still men, and it depends.
That’s a big rise, isn’t it?
It’s a lot because men want to look good and 60 is the new 40. A lot of people are single, the divorced rate is up higher and people need to look good and find themselves another partner. This goes for men and women. They want to look good. I had a 65-year-old man that had full-body lipo. He wants to look good. I do a significant amount of liposuction on men, that’s what I do.
Frequently the chest for people that have larger gynecomastia or what’s called like man boobs or liposuction anywhere from abdomen and flanks. My partner, John does a ton of male rhinoplasties. A lot of people want to change their nose, they’re not happy with it.
Is that a bit weird to change your nose after 60 years? They must not just look like them anymore.
Most of them aren’t that old. The ones he does are 20s and 30s. Sometimes it’s post-traumatic where the nose have been broken. The most frequent procedure that men come to our office for is just Botox. Botox is a great way to keep someone looking like themselves, but halt the progression of aging over time.
I know you do your philanthropy. You have burn victims and the cancer patients. Where did you go? Remind me of the story because I have the worst memory.
We were a big part of Smile Train. We do cleft lip and pallet repairs in underserved populations. We went to a place called Chiapas, Mexico. Lo and behold, the largest earthquake in the history of Chiapas, Mexico happened right when we landed. Unfortunately, they didn’t let us do anything. They send us back on the next plane, but that was where we’re supposed to go. We do a significant amount of mission trips and go to places to help people out and a lot here in LA as well. If there are cases of burns or post-mastectomy reconstruction or skinny cancer. Anyone who can’t afford to have reconstructive surgery, we can always take that on too. We have our own staff at Cedars-Sinai and we frequently do any type of case that is needed to be done that somebody can’t afford. It makes us give back a little bit.
Does that bring the reality of life into this LA bubble?
Absolutely, we’re blessed to have the training and knowledge that we have and to be able to help others when they can’t afford it or they don’t have insurance or something precludes them from having it. It’s great for us.
As one of the top plastic surgeons not only in LA but in the world, how would you like to be remembered?
I’d like to be remembered as someone who helped a lot of people and didn’t necessarily change people. That’s what all doctors should do. We’re out here to do no harm and to help as many people as we possibly can.
We love you, Pay. Thank you so much.
- Beverly Hills Plastic Surgery Group
- American Board of Plastic Surgery
- Smile Train
- La La Landed on Facebook
About Dr. Payman Danielpour
Dr. Payman Danielpour, a native to Beverly Hills, has finally returned home after many years of education and training. Payman is a proud alumnus of Beverly Hills High School. Payman attended medical school at The Chicago Medical School. While in medical school, Payman excelled in his studies and was very active in community service and medical societies. He was elected class president of his graduating medical school class. He decided on a surgical career and trained in General Surgery at the prestigious Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach. As a standout general surgery resident, Dr. Danielpour was fortunate enough to be selected to train in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Nassau University Medical Center in New York. It was here that he trained under the world-renowned Long Island Plastic Surgical Group – the largest and oldest private practice group in America. Despite having complete and well-rounded knowledge and love for plastic surgery, Dr. Danielpour developed a passion for breast cancer reconstruction and aesthetic breast and body surgery. He offers the latest and most advanced techniques in aesthetic breast and body surgery, including the subfascial approach to breast enhancement. He is very proud of the development of the SIMM, The Single Incision Mommy Makeover, with his partner Dr. John Layke. In this combined procedure, a tummy tuck and breast augmentation are performed all through one incision! Dr. Danielpour has published numerous articles in reputable surgical journals, and he has given oral presentations at multiple National Conferences. He has appeared on local news stations such as NBC-LA, as well as national broadcasts like Extra, Home & Family TV, Entertainment Tonight and The Doctors. He has served as a consultant for 944 Magazine, LA Mom Magazine, OK Magazine, STAR Magazine, as well as US Weekly. He is on the scientific advisory board for Neodyne, a company known for cutting-edge advanced scar therapy from Stanford University. He frequently speaks at national and international conferences and symposiums on the latest advances in breast surgery and body contouring. Along with Dr. Layke, Dr. Danielpour co-founded and formulated Beverly Hills MD, an internationally known skin care line that blends cutting edge dermal technology and natural skincare ingredients. These clinically proven products replenish essential nutrients and reclaim lost youth from environmental damage. Dr. Danielpour and Dr. Layke are also founders of Stitch MD, a 24-hour emergency laceration and minor injury service that was created by the Doctors to cater to the community and have plastic surgeons on call 24/7 to treat minor injuries. This was created by the doctors because of their love for children and the need for proper and urgent care in a comfortable setting. Dr. Danielpour is an active member of The American Society of Plastic Surgeons. He is on staff at Cedars Sinai Medical Center and Olympia Medical Center. He is board-certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery. Dr. Danielpour’s passion is giving back to the world and the community by attending Smile Train mission trips and always being available for traumatic injuries in the community.