“My job is to help people feel more beautiful and confident. I am also devoted to helping my patients achieve better health overall,” Dr. Gregory A. Buford said.
Dr. Gregory A. Buford, MD, FACS, runs BEAUTY by BUFORD, a prestigious plastic surgery practice in Lone Tree, Colorado. By combining science and art, he gives each patient a natural, refreshing appearance that exceeds their expectations. Patients are cared for with integrity, compassion and empathy.
Dr. Buford knows the depths of this business, which focuses on enhancing beauty and self-esteem and, sometimes, calls for protecting the patient by saying ‘no’ when those two goals are not as desired.
Dr. Buford’s Journey to Plastic Surgery
“At the age of four, I suddenly decided I wanted to become a doctor. I told my parents to call me ‘Doctor,’ my lunchbox was my medical case, and the rest is history. I did rotations and spent some time with a variety of disciplines. I absolutely fell in love with plastic surgery,” Dr. Buford shared.
What truly drew him to plastic surgery was the practice’s intersection between art and science.
“I’m an avid photographer, so there’s definitely an artistic side of me in addition to the scientific side. Plastic surgery is a perfect way to blend the two,” he explained.
Dr. Buford realized that plastic surgeons, more so than doctors in other practices, have the opportunity to create a unique presence in the field.
“There are only a few ways to take out a dead gallbladder or a few ways to treat a ruptured spleen. But there are many ways to do a facelift, tummy tuck or facial injectables. How we do them helps define us as plastic surgeons,” he said.
A Creative Collaboration between Doctor and Patient
“It’s almost like you’re operating with your patients. You’re achieving the part they can’t accomplish on their own,” he explained.
But the patient, Dr. Buford points out, has to play their part, too. Lifestyle factors, such as diet, exercise, smoking and drinking, are all just as important as the surgery itself for maintaining the outcomes they want and expect.
“I always tell patients that I’m only part of the puzzle. If you come to me for body contouring, but then you go back to McDonald’s and keep smoking and drinking heavily, well, you might as well just throw all that work in the garbage,” he explained.
Having an interactive, proactive patient makes a huge difference. It’s what makes his work a joy.
Understanding the Patient’s Motives
“I always ask the patients, ‘Why now?’ Say they’re 35 years old and want liposuction. Why didn’t they get it done 10 years ago? Or why not wait until they’re 40? Why now,” he shared.
These powerful questions reveal to Dr. Buford their motivations.
“A lot of my patients are young moms or going through divorces. They think they no longer look as young as they feel inside and want to turn back the clock and look natural,” he explained.
The most important thing, according to Dr. Buford, is realistic expectations. And for those who come in with unrealistic expectations, sometimes the best treatment is no treatment at all.
Saying No to Unrealistic Expectations
There are times when Dr. Buford will turn down a patient’s request. If motivation comes from within and expectations of the outcome are realistic, all is well, and they can proceed. But sometimes, Dr. Buford encounters the wrong motivations and unrealistic expectations. Some, for example, want to look like a favorite celebrity, and others are clearly doing it for someone else.
“The worst reason to do plastic surgery is for someone else,” Dr. Buford said. “I always tell people that this is not for the significant other but for them. When you do this for someone else, they will just want more in the future.”
Sometimes, a patient starts wanting more and more procedures added to what was originally done.
“At some point, they lose sight of perspective and reality and keep changing the bar. At that point, my main responsibility is to reel them in and say no,” he explained.
The more he says no, the more his patients respect him. They realize he is doing it for the right reasons.
“Once you treat your patients with respect like that, they’ll trust you and become your long-term patients,” he shared.
Author of Three Books
Dr. Buford is the author of three published books:
- “Beauty and the Business: Practice, Profits and Productivity, Performance and Profitability“ (Dr. Gregory A. Buford and Steven E. House). The authors outline practices for running a profitable business in an industry with optional services.
- “Eat, Drink, Heal: The Art and Science of Surgical Nutrition” (Dr. Gregory Buford). What you eat affects how well you heal. Planning before surgery can help you achieve optimal healing.
- “The Boob Job Bible: Your Ultimate Guide to Breast Surgery” (Dr. Gregory Buford). Here’s what it’s like to get breast enhancement, from surgery to recovery.
Looking Toward the Future
Plastic surgery is a rapidly changing field with innovations appearing constantly.
“My favorite part about plastic surgery is that it is by no means static. It’s constantly evolving. It’s a very dynamic field, and that intrigues me,” he explained.
Dr. Buford offers a bit of advice to those entering the field.
“Understand that you’re stepping onto a conveyor belt and may not know where it’s going. You’ll make mistakes, but so does every successful business leader. Learn to pivot and be nimble. You have to be nimble,” he shared.
He also recommends making yourself a little different and being willing to take risks.
“The true artist starts from scratch and uses the artistry to get themselves started. Try to identify the coming trends and where things do or don’t work,” he concluded.
For Dr. Buford, staying on the cutting edge keeps him challenged and enthused. Truly listening to his patients’ hopes and motivations gives him the information he needs to provide the best service or reason to say no for the patient’s best interests. And the work itself fulfills him as both a scientist and an artist.