Written By Jennifer Niskanen, June 2015
After just over 30 years, Dr. Ronald Levine’s plastic and cosmetic surgery practice is still primarily built by word of mouth, even in today’s society, when a lot of people simply choose their plastic surgeon by going online. That’s definitely a testament to his stellar reputation and experience, as a board certified plastic surgeon since 1984.
Dr. Levine actually cautions those interested in cosmetic procedures that, “Just because someone has invested a lot of money into advertising and a web page, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are a good plastic surgeon. The best is to try to get a referral from another patient.” Instead, he emphasizes his position as a full professor, at the University of Toronto, as well as the rarity of professors that even do cosmetic surgery. Dr. Levine takes obvious pride in his involvement in the education of surgical residents. He is also the director of postgraduate surgery, where he oversees the university’s 11 surgery programs.
“Teaching the next generation of plastic surgeons, and all surgeons, is very important to me. I get a lot of satisfaction out of that and my career,” Dr. Ronald Levine.
Originally from Montreal, Dr. Levine went to medical school at McGill and finished medical school in 1979. He then came to Toronto to do his residency in both general surgery and plastic surgery, graduating in 1984 from the University of Toronto. What sets his practice apart is his direct hands-on approach to his patients.
“In a lot of plastic surgery offices, patients are first seen by an office coordinator or a patient consultant. In my case, I don’t leave it to anyone else. I see every patient myself to discuss the operation, what they’re getting themselves into, concerns, realistic expectations, realistic recovery, and potential complications. I don’t leave that to somebody else to do,” Dr. Ronald Levine.
Through both his own practice and his teaching position, Dr. Levine is involved with many aspects of general plastic surgery, both reconstructive and cosmetic. As well as facial cosmetic surgery, the bulk of his procedures fall under the general category of body contouring, including his specialty: mommy makeovers.
“After pregnancy in some women, it affects different parts of the body. Every woman is different. Priorities are different, but in general it can affect the face, arms, breasts, stomach and legs. And, the mommy makeover, depending on what the patient’s concerns are, is different. It can be a combination of multiple procedures, but most common is breasts and stomach,” Dr. Ronald Levine.
Such body contouring might include, breast augmentation and lifts, liposuction of the abdomen and legs, tummy tucks, or leg contouring, which can sometimes involve simple liposuction or thigh reductions, where actual fat and skin is excised. Combinations of procedures are also popular. Dr. Levine reports that probably the newest procedure that he has been doing is what is called a Brazilian Buttocks’ Augmentation, where fat from certain areas of the body are utilized to augment the buttocks.
“Every patient is a little bit different and their requirements are a bit different. Maybe there will be more recovery time if you are combining more than one procedure, and that’s something that is discussed at the time of the consultation. I try to give realistic expectations of what a normal recovery is,” Dr. Ronald Levine.
Prevention, when is comes to the signs of aging, is one of the defining characteristics according to Dr. Levine that determines who can best benefit from cosmetic procedures and at what age. That is where his personal consultations with every patient really shine. Issues like these are always discussed so the patient is fully informed, and if they don’t really have a problem, then there is no need for fillers or Botox.
“That means taking care of yourself, so smoking, sun exposure, things like that are probably the best preventive measures. Again, every patient is different, so the effects of aging are different in every patient. Some patients could benefit in their forties. Others wouldn’t get any benefits until they’re in their sixties,” Dr. Ronald Levine.
As far as facial work, he does the whole gambit of cosmetic surgery, including blepharoplasty of both the upper and lower eyelids and rhinoplasty, face lifts, brow lifts, plus fillers like juvederm and botox. Juvederm lip injections are a quick office procedure that lasts six months to a year, but lip augmentation is also done using a patient’s own fat, depending on their individual desires. Because of bruising and swelling, there is a somewhat longer recovery period in that case, but it is also permanent. It is a bit more involved than an in-office injection too, because you have to freeze an area of the body to get fat. Then, it needs to be prepared and transferred. Many patients look for individual combinations of these operations too. All of this obviously leads to a busy schedule, but Dr. Levine still makes time to work out about an hour every day, for an average of about five days a week.
“I have certain days where I see patients and certain days when I operate, so I don’t operate five days a week. I operate three days a week, and I have a very, very good assistant who organizes my offices and operating rooms. So, I attribute a lot of the organization to my assistant,” Dr. Ronald Levine.
Dr. Levine says the lay-person might easily be mistaken in thinking plastic surgery is primarily nipping and tucking, but that actually is only a very small part of the profession. There are many different aspects of plastic surgery, and cosmetic surgery is only one. There are also things like pediatric plastic surgery, where they deal with cleft lips and cleft palates and craniofacial anomalies, microsurgery, and even hand surgery, as well as oncology and breast reconstruction, after breast cancer. For medical students, there are 72 different specialties. He offers this advice to aspiring surgeons:
“Try to get an idea of what every specialty is and what life is after residency because you’re going to work very hard, and you want to get sort of an understanding of what it is to be an orthopedic surgeon, a plastic surgeon, a urologist. If you are into plastic surgery already, and you’re studying to be a plastic surgeon, there are many aspects of plastic and cosmetic surgery, not only one, and you should do the part of plastic surgery that gives you the most satisfaction and where you’re going to do some good to the public,” Dr. Ronald Levine.