Surgeon’s Touch Offers Free Reconstructive Plastic Surgery to Lower-Income Patients
Dr. Wright Jones is giving back to the community through his non-profit, Surgeon’s Touch, which provides reconstructive surgery at no cost to low income patients.
Having starred on Lifetime’s reality series Atlanta Plastic for two seasons, Dr. Jones is a well known figure in Atlanta. And while the local upper-income set flock to him for both his artistry and clinical expertise, the veteran surgeon is also celebrated for his pro bono work with Surgeon’s Touch, a non-profit organization he founded in 2016.
Through Surgeon’s Touch, patients suffering from traumatic injuries and congenital abnormalities can pay for their operations by performing impactful community service projects.
Zwivel recently spoke with Dr. Jones about his practice, charity work, and to gain his unique insight with respect to the latest developments in the field of cosmetic surgery.
Zwivel: What trends are you seeing at your practice?
Dr. Wright Jones: We’re seeing more patients coming to us for tummy tucks and Brazilian butt lifts than ever before. Also, many patients come see me to correct surgeries they’d had done in other parts of the country or overseas. Surgeries that didn’t quite turn out as well as they’d hoped.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), from 2015 to 2016 the number of people getting Brazilian butt lifts increased by 26 per cent. I suspect the influence of certain celebrities – Kim Kardashian and Nicki Minaj immediately come to mind – has played a major role in exposing curvier women with bigger butts to the world, popularizing the look at the same time.
There’s a lot of filming going on in Atlanta, I wonder if that has an impact too.
Yes, it has. Here in Atlanta there are several unique factors contributing to the amplification of this trend. The city is now a major hub for film and television production, especially reality series. We are in a unique city at an exciting time for plastic surgery.
Many of the stars here are women who are not obese but maintain noticeable curves and a full rear end. Their impact upon the local community is obvious: I see patient after patient coming into the office, requesting to have the butt (or not have the butt) of a particular reality star.
Another reason why this procedure is in such high demand is because patients are more educated about the technique and its potential benefits than they used to be. Most of them don’t want an oversized backside per se, but do seek a flatter belly, contoured waist, and a rounder butt with moderate projection.
I find many also really like the idea of a “twofer,” i.e. removing fat from an unwanted location and distributing it elsewhere in the body. Atlanta has a substantial group of plastic surgeons who’ve become quite well known for this procedure. It’s actually one of the most common I perform. I don’t see this trend changing anytime soon because the versatility of fat grafting to the buttocks allows us to accommodate a much broader cohort of patients, each with their own specific demands.
How did you get started in plastic surgery?
When I was nine-years-old I had a cousin who had been badly burned in a grease fire. She was brought back to my small town in rural Georgia where I watched my aunt take care of her. I remember being in the kitchen, watching them unwrap her like a mummy and seeing she had severe burns all over her face and arms. I was very intrigued by the whole experience.
My aunt told me how plastic surgeons would need to work on her. I had no idea what that meant – I thought they were actually going to put plastic on my cousin’s face. But over time, as I started paying more attention to plastic surgery procedures I’d read about in the news, this kind of surgery piqued my interest even more.
So by the time I got into medical school I naturally gravitated toward the plastic surgery doctors. I found they tended to be laid back, very smart and creative. I was fascinated by the field, and the more I learned about it, the more I wanted to know.
What motivated you to start your non-profit organization?
It had been something I’d wanted to do ever since I was in school, the true motivation inspired by a vision given to me by God. I was raised to try and help others and give back whenever you can. I feel that’s the true essence of what any surgeon does.
Plus, this is a way to focus my attention on something positive; I can’t ever let myself become so consumed by my cosmetic practice that I forget about helping the less fortunate. And you know, while it may be the patient whose benefiting from the actual surgery, the whole neighborhood can also be impacted, as we ask them to create a comprehensive community service project. This is a way to inspire the community.
I was raised to try and help others and give back whenever you can. I feel that’s the true essence of what any surgeon does.
How did you come up with the idea for community service?
My mom used to make me pick up the trash along the ditch next to my house. She wanted that area to always be neat and clean despite the fact it was a poor community that was generally dirty. I think the idea just stuck in my head, you know, about giving back, serving the community, taking pride in where you live. That’s what I want to instill in the people who live in these communities. I really think this will be a huge opportunity for the people and communities who need help.
Walk me through the process of selecting a person who will receive the free surgery.
Well, for starters, it’s not just up to me; we have several passionate board members also providing input. That said, there are three essential factors we consider:
- The severity of the deformity, i.e. not some tiny scar.
- Their level of poverty. We really want to pick adults and children who simply would not have the money to do this surgery if we weren’t helping them.
- Their community project. This isn’t just about picking up a couple beer cans, you know, we really want them to be involved. They need to create something that is meaningful. We love this ‘pay it forward’ arrangement with our patients.
What other States are involved?
I work with many doctors throughout states like Nevada and California, as well as other areas in Georgia and Florida. They are all happy and eager to participate. We bounce information back and forth with each other.
Why is it so difficult for low income families to get the help they need?
Because there’s so many other pressing problems going on for them, like keeping the lights on, trying to keep a job, paying the rent, etc. When their child is born with a congenital problem, with so much else happening it’s hard to prioritize fixing it. But even if they are focused on the problem and appreciate how much it impacts the child, they often just can’t afford to do it.
Also, disadvantaged patients often face greater challenges obtaining elective reconstructive procedures. Even with the advent of a new healthcare plan it remains likely low-income families will continue to experience limited access to reconstructive surgery.
The shortage of plastic surgeons in the United States in general, the even more limited number of plastic surgeons who perform reconstructive surgery, and the non-emergent nature of most deformities are all factors potentiating the huge health care disparity seen within the field of plastic and reconstructive surgery.
Meanwhile, patients requiring these procedures continue to suffer from the psychological, physical and financial burdens created by certain deformities.
What’s next for you?
Right now we are very focused on fundraising. I want so much to be able to help people. We have several celebrities who are willing to donate money and that’s really exciting as well. Next month, we have a big event planned: Real Housewives of Atlanta star Kandi Burruss, actress Keshia Knight Pulliam, and rapper 2 Chainz are all coming. We’re really looking forward to it, obviously hoping it will be a huge success.
For more information on Dr. Jones and Surgeons Touch, visit www.wrightjonesplasticsurgery.com.
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