By RODNEY HO/ email@example.com, originally filed Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Plastic surgery shows have occasionally dotted the reality show landscape over the past decade. Most notable are E!'s "Dr. 90210" (2004-2009) and the current show hit E! show "Botched," where plastic surgeons fix messed up past procedures.
Lifetime is trying to take a different angle with "Atlanta Plastic," debuting at 10 p.m. Friday featuring three local black plastic surgeons, two based in Kennesaw and one in Buckhead.
This show focuses on minorities seeking plastic surgery and touches upon differing beauty standards among races. Each episode follows three patients (one for each doctor) from consultation to post operation.
All three doctors said they've been pitched reality programs many times and said no just as many times.
"I usually hang up on them," said Marcus Crawford, a Morehouse College grad who has run Crawford Plastic Surgery in Kennesaw for the past seven years.
Aisha McKnight-Baron - a Spelman grad who received her medical degree at Baylor College of Medicine and works with Crawford - avoided shows like Bravo's "Married to Medicine" because she didn't want cameras following her personal life.
Wright Jones, who has a Buckhead practice overlooking Lenox Square Mall, said yes this time because he liked the concept.
Although 80 percent of his patients are minorities, he wanted to make it clear he doesn't exclude white patients. "I don't want to be pigeonholed as a black surgeon," Jones said. "I want to be known as a great surgeon who happens to be black."
Jones was also clear upfront to the show's producers about his parameters.
"I'm not going to be bashing colleagues," said Jones, 38, who grew up in small-town Georgia and did a residencies at Emory University and Grady Hospital. "And some of my mentors, the people who taught me about ethnic plastic surgery were Caucasian."
The number of blacks who are plastic surgeons are relatively small, the three doctors say, but hard data is difficult to come by. Neither the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery nor the American Society of Plastic Surgeons track that type of demographic information.
But the American Society of Plastic Surgeons do track customers by race. African-Americans did 1.2 million procedures, or 8 percent of the total number, in 2013.
Between 2005 and 2013, the group estimates the number of cosmetic procedures performed on blacks jumped 56 percent compared to 35 percent for non-Hispanic whites. Procedures on Asians and Hispanics grew even faster than both.
The first episode features a middle-aged black woman named Roz seeking a breast lift, liposuction, a tummy tuck and vaginal reconstruction. Her husband Cregg, at first, was not thrilled. She specifically sought out Baron. "Having an African-American woman as my surgeon is important to me," she said on the show. "I feel she can relate to me. She understands my skin. She understands my body."
To Baron, who has been a plastic surgeon for two years, the goal is to improve people's quality of life. "You can rebuild a woman and restore her confidence," she said.
Indeed, by the end, Roz said: "I feel so pretty, I could kiss myself!"
Another black woman Tiffany had a child when she was young and never liked her stomach, especially after four kids. She avoided bikinis. "It would mean getting back my body something I deserve after all those pregnancies," she said before surgery. "I know a lot of mothers would agree."
Crawford gave her a tummy tuck and a breast lift and by the end of the episode, she was posing in a bikini.
He said he first considered becoming a cardiac surgeon but the crazy hours and tedium of the surgery procedures turned him off. With plastic surgery, he enjoys a more standardized schedule and a variety of challenges every day, whether it's a rhinoplasty or a breast reconstruction. "And you get some creative license," he said, compared to, say, gall bladder surgery.
Jones' patient was Iris, a Hispanic woman who considers herself "an ugly duckling." She wanted a nose job, chin contouring and a tummy tuck. After surgery, a much happier Iris showed off her new look to her family and said, "This is the beginning of the rest of my life."
While Jones admitted TV exposure may help his business, that was not his primary reason to do the show.
"I didn't really need this," he said. "But maybe the show can motivate others. It can help educate patients about ethnic plastic surgery."
"Atlanta Plastic," 10 p.m. Fridays, starting July 31, 2015, Lifetime