Director of Vila-Rovira Institute of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Teknon Medical Center in Barcelona and pioneer in various plastic and cosmetic surgery techniques, he has published the book called “Surgery for the Soul”, in which he answers such complex questions like what is beautiful and if possible achieve happiness with plastic surgery.
LOOKOUT: What was your inspiration for “Surgery for the Soul”?
RAMÓN VILA-ROVIRA: I have to thanks my patients for the inspiration. Throughout the years, I have seen that in most of them, if not all, the unconscious aim is to improve their personal and intimate life, because all the procedures I perform in cosmetic and plastic surgery, have the aim to improve the interior, although obviously the exterior result is very important.
LO: Can surgery heal the wounds of the soul?
R. V.-R.: It can contribute to help, yes. As long as the wounds are related to not feeling well due to a physical complex. If it is so, we resolve it easily and the patient will feel better, happy and satisfied… If, on the other hand, the soul wound is not focused on a physical complex, it will be far more complicated.
LO: Do people come to your office to solve their problems of self-esteem, marriage, or to improve in their professional career…?
R. V-R.: Yes, many do. And this is what I meant in the previous answer, when I differentiated between types of motivations with which a patient comes to us. In these cases, what usually happens is that the patient is happy in the short run but in the medium / long run, they will continue to feel dissatisfied.
LO: As you point out in your book, in order to change on the outside, it is necessary to change on the inside: to question one’s habits, analyze motivations and think on the way one views life. Only from there, when a person is beautiful on the inside, he or she can also be beautiful on the outside. So, what role do surgery and aesthetic medicine play in the process?
R. V.-R.: Rather than “being beautiful on the inside,” I think what makes the difference is to be in balance. If a person is balanced and decides to improve their body with the help of surgery, everything will be easier and we will have a much greater chance to achieve total patient satisfaction. Because the patient will be able to understand how we can help ourselves and will appreciate the results.
If, however, a person is not balanced and puts all their hopes for change in surgery, we will often not obtain patient satisfaction. Because in these cases, their satisfaction not only depends on the results of surgery, but is also conditioned by all the hopes that the patient has placed in the procedure. For example: hope to fix a relationship, get a job, to achieve greater success, etc.
In the first case the surgery will help the patient feel better, in the second case it will probably only contribute to a physical change.
LO: What motivates you every day with patients that come to you?
R. V-R.: Everything. I love my work especially be- cause every day is different. Different patients, different cases. I love the process and the result motivates me a lot when it fully satisfies the patient.
LO: How did you discover your vocation as plastic and cosmetic surgeon?
R. V-R.: Ophthalmologist Gabriel Pérez-Bufill opened my eyes. It was he who, in the seventies, talked to me about plastic surgery as a specialty with a great future. At that time I have just graduated from medicine.
Shortly after I met Dr. Jaume Planas, it was at that moment was when I really decided I wanted to train as a plastic surgeon. It was love at first sight. I wanted to help people overcome their complexes or defects.
LO: What is the typical profile of a patient of your surgery and how do they find themselves in your office? R. V-R.: The typical profile is a person concerned about an aspect of their physique. They come to my office because someone recommended me, because they see me in the media, because they’ve heard my name or because a colleague directs them to my office. But truly the most important patient is that who comes by word of mouth, recommended by another patient who I have already operated.
LO: What is the average price for a treatment?
R. V-R.: When it comes to cosmetic surgery, the fork is very wide. Today we can say that the average price would be the cost of a breast augmentation, which is the most frequent procedure that we do. Around 6,000 euros.
LO: Aesthetic surgery is often viewed as frivolous and superficial. What do you think of such opinions?
R. V-R.: I think that whoever says this is completely unaware of the suffering of our patients, and our work obviously.
LO: Yet there are many people who believe that a surgery will change their life almost miraculously…
R. V-R.: Yes, but we ourselves are responsible for informing the patient well and insist until there is no doubt about the procedure, what the expected results will be and how the process will develop.
We try not to intervene until the expectations are made clear, precisely to prevent the patient’s dissatisfaction.
LO: What are the main elements of innovation in surgery of the XXI century?
R. V-R.: I believe the future lies in the use of patient’s own fat. It has many applications and virtually eliminates the risk of rejection, so I think it is a real progress. There is also a lot of study being conducted of the issue of using stromal cells and stem cells.
LO: Travel + surgical operations, a new concept … What is your opinion?
R. V-R.: Ideally, a person should be operated close to where they live (up to 1-2 hours), as the aftercare is much better if you have the medical team near home.