(Photo via California Beaches)
Orange County gets a bad rap — from me more than anyone. But I also live by the saying: When you point a finger at someone, you’ve got three pointing back at you... Which is why I don't claim to be perfect as I lament the regional culture and its many shortcomings (i.e. its not NYC).
To prove my journalistic integrity, I’d like to show Orange County some love for one area in which it truly excels: cosmetic dermatology & plastic surgery.
I could totally point out the irony of the fact that OC’s excellence in aesthetics speaks to its reputation for superficiality, but I won't. Here’s why: Over the past couple of months, I have been interviewing top dermatologists, skincare experts, and plastic surgeons for both Brit + Co. and Locale Magazine. I’ve discovered that these physicians aren’t just smart, accomplished individuals (duh); it turns out that they’re esteemed leaders in their respective specialties.
(Photo via Allure)
Here in OC, conveniently located along a stunning coastline and year-round sunshine, is a Mecca for the beauty industry’s elite professionals in advanced esthetics. Our close proximity to L.A. means leading doctors, dermatologists, and plastic surgeons can easily retreat or retire to our beachside communities for a break from city living.
I recently spoke with Dr. Jennifer Armstrong, the CEO of Advanced Skincare Sugery & MedCenter, who herself holds an M.D. as well as a degree in Alternative Medicine from Georgetown University. (So cool.) My inner-elitist perked up when I caught wind of her hand-picked staff, comprised of industry-leading doctors with esteemed reputations.
If you think I’m exaggerating, just wait. Among them is a world-renowned laser expert named Dr. Sire whom I interviewed after he was voted one of Orange County’s top dermatologists. If you’re familiar with laser skincare treatments, they’re so specialized and high-tech, it’s easy to forget that they’re still, at their core, lasers. To me, this illustrates the fact that brilliant is brilliant, all associations with beauty aside.
ASC MedCenter also just acquired a living legend among plastic surgeons: Dr. Norman Leaf. (above) If you’ve ever wondered how celebrities maintain their good looks, Dr. Leaf’s handywork is likely to thank for it. For the past forty years, he’s been the go-to plastic surgeon for Hollywood’s elite. Throughout his career, he has performed behind-the-scenes, cosmetic surgeries for some of the most high-profile public figures in the world.
Dr. Leaf’s persona seems appropriately suave, cultured, and fashionable. The man even owned Prada on Rodeo Drive. He’s got the distinct type of old-man-swagger that comes from it being common knowledge that you’re the actual, agreed-upon best. Oh, that and being a serious Hollywood insider. The world’s foremost plastic-surgeon-to-the-stars hasnt just met countless A-listers; he has seen and helped the entire celebrity pantheon with their most vulnerable insecurities.
In an industry where discretion is everything (his motto: the best plastic surgery is invisible), Dr. Leaf earned his reputation for flawless results. The proof can be seen on his own leading lady. Thanks to a discreet surgery or two on his significant other, not a soul at ASC MedCenter can believe that she’s in her 70s.
Not only has he performed more facelifts than possibly anyone in existence, but he’s performed them on red carpet goddesses we can only imagine. He is the world’s most sought-after plastic surgeon in an industry where the results matter the most.
Think about it: Preserved looks mean millions of dollars for actors and actresses whose careers depend upon continued camera-readiness. Rather than thinking of plastic surgery simply in terms of vanity, think of youth and beauty as forms of social capital. It’s good business to maximize on your youthful appearance — before you start getting typecast as a crone.
Plus, many industry-leading professionals found their calling in the field for relatable, compassionate reasons. Dr. Leaf’s aha! moment as a doctor came while repairing a child’s cleft palette. His understanding of the life-transforming impact of reconstructive surgery spurred him into the plastic surgery specialty, before going on to revolutionize the field.
It is not uncommon for Orange County doctors with thriving medical practices to invest themselves in the causes they believe in. En Plein Air is one OC-based non-profit that performs scar removal for survivors of trauma, founded by Dr. Lee of Halcyon Dermatology in Laguna Hills. Dr. Leaf’s non-profit of choice is Rebuilding America’s Warriors (R.A.W.), which provides reconstructive surgery to wounded soldiers returning from war. He famously donated the proceeds of Marilyn Monroe’s auctioned-off medical record for her 1950’s chin implant, news of which reached the UK’s Daily Mail.
Luckily for us, Dr. Leaf chose Newport Beach as the idyllic community in which to settle down as he continues on with his crazy-impressive career. OC residents should be seriously psyched to have a world-class surgeon in our midst. And if you’ve ever considered plastic surgery, now is seriously the time to get it — before he retires for real.
As much as I love to judge OC, it’s a pretty great place to be writing about beauty. And while I prefer Laguna Beach, Newport Beach just scored itself a fab new resident. Welcome to the hood, Dr. Leaf!