Becoming and Being A Facial Plastic Surgeon

Once in a while a young college student or medical student approaches Dr. Kang, and ask what it takes to be a successful facial plastic surgeon, and he usually responds this way:“First you have to persevere through years of schooling and be academically strong to gain acceptance into a medical school. During medical school years, you get an idea whether you want to be technical with your hands and pursue a surgical field or not. Once you start residency training in surgery, you spend significant amount of time daily in the operating room, observing and learning how to operate. Along the way, if you happen to find out that you possess natural talents in the operating room, it is always a pleasant bonus. With or without the natural talents, if you can learn to be proficient with your hands, and have consistently good result, then you were meant to be a surgeon. However, the long and grueling five years of residency training only serves as a stepping stone to your final leg of training, which is the fellowship in Facial Plastic Surgery. A formal fellowship is of paramount importance to the surgeon pursuing the field of Facial Plastic Surgery because all the schooling and training thus far has been focused on diagnosing and treating disease process of the face and head and neck. The best analogy is the lens of your camera; if the disease process has been in the foreground, then the shape and beauty of human face have always been there, but rather fuzzy in the background. The fellowship trains the surgeon to re-focus so that the beauty and harmony of human face now appears in the foreground. However, how sharply the surgeon can focus is the “innate visual and artistic sense” of the surgeon to recognize what “natural” beauty is, and appreciate that harmony and balance of face comes in all different sizes, shapes, and proportions.”


Dr. Kang credits his “innate visual and artistic sense” to his over 30 years of on-going interests in photography and in the field of classic and vintage automobiles and designs. Ever since he has been able to drive, he has been a passionate student of automobile designs, especially the European designers and coach-builders, such as Pininfarina, Bertone, Guigaro, Scaglietti, Touring, to name a few. These designers have always understood that the ultimate success lies with the proportions and balance of each panel that are juxtaposed to one another to create an overall harmonious shape, pleasant to look at from every angle. They were able to apply this concept whether the car was destined to be exotic and curvaceous or proletarian and boxy. The very first car Dr. Kang acquired during his senior year in high school was a ’73 Alfa Romeo Coupe designed by Bertone. It was in rough condition when he acquired it, but the inherent design still shined right through, and with time, he was able to restore the car into an excellent condition. Ever since then, he has been enjoying and restoring many other vintage and classic automobiles which he affectionately calls “rolling work of art”. His interest in photography began following an introductory course in high school. As one of his first assignments using a borrowed Canon AE-1 SLR from his Dad, the black and white photo that he took of a child sitting on a swing in a playground, was good enough to be displayed in the school gallery for the reminder of the year. To this day, Dr. Kang personally takes all the “before and after” pictures of patients himself, because it helps him to better analyze the patient’s facial features and proportions.


“Those of us specializing in facial cosmetic practice, whether surgical or non-surgical, feel that we are more than proficient to do the job since we are “experts” in knowing what beauty, balance, and harmony is. However, only with time and results to show, can we realize that we hold both the visual sense and the artistic and technical abilities to consistently create these cosmetic improvements on our patients. Only then can we convince ourselves of being truly good at what we do, and hopefully impart that level of comfort and confidence to our patients.”