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Plastic surgeon employs art, science

Plastic surgeon Jeffrey Spiegel said he looks for ways to help his patients achieve the images they are trying to project.Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

With the surge in "selfie'' and photo-sharing on social media, plastic surgeon Jeffrey Spiegel has seen an increase in requests for procedures. Spiegel, who has his practice in Brookline, believes people are more concerned about image enhancement than physical beauty. "I look at what features need to be adjusted to convey the message you want," said Spiegel, also chief of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery at Boston Medical Center. He spoke with Globe correspondent Cindy Atoji Keene.

"The traditional way of approaching plastic surgery is to break down aesthetics into numbers and ratios, such as the projection of the nose within a certain width to its length. A more evolutionary way to look at the face is to look closely at the details and how they complete a harmonious picture.


"One example is the eyes: The shadow and depth of the eye can send gender cues. Reducing the bone around the eye and subtly adjusting the corner of the eye can make a person appear more feminine. When I meet with a patient, I ask what image they are trying to project.

"I try to take a holistic approach, putting big emphasis on exercise, diet, and skin care. Cosmetic surgery is art and science. The science [is] the rules, such as how tissue behaves; the art component is subjective, like an artist painting a portrait. I think of myself as an airline pilot — I don't have room for mistakes. I can't say I have a safe landing 95 percent of the time."

Cindy Atoji Keene can be reached at