An interview with Lawrence Iteld, MD

Board Certified plastic surgeon Lawrence Iteld, MD, ChicagoOf all the medical disciplines, why did you choose plastic surgery?

During my training, I enjoyed a lot of different fields of medicine. Each appealed to a different part of my personality. Plastic surgery attracted me because it wasn’t about performing a specific operation, but rather about problem solving. When I see the world, when I see patients, I naturally see an outcome, I see a goal, a destiny. The unique challenge of plastic surgery is how to get there.

As a plastic surgeon, we are given a set of tools, and we use those tools in unique combinations to create a result the patient either wants or needs. Since no two people are exactly the same, we have to customize our approach for each and every individual.

What is the best part of being a plastic surgeon?

Plastic surgery is very different from all other surgeries. In every other field, success is measured by curing a disease. In plastic surgery, success is determined by patient satisfaction with their outcome. Nothing is more rewarding then seeing a giant smile on your patient’s face after their recovery—whether for cosmetic or reconstructive surgery.

What are your most difficult challenges of being a plastic surgeon?

Since surgical results are very subjective, on rare occasions, even the best technical result may not satisfy the patient’s expectations.

I spend a lot of time consulting and eliciting patient expectations prior to surgery. But, every once in a while, no matter how hard I try or how good a patient looks, the patient may not be happy.

I am very lucky to have amazing patients and fortunate it is very uncommon that we run into these issues.

What is your surgical style?

Meticulous. Preplanned. Efficient.

My goal is to spend as much time as needed prior to surgery to clearly delineate patient goals so I can perform the procedure efficiently and with as few variables as possible.

How many years of training did it take for you to become a plastic surgeon?

It is a long and continuous educational process. After four years of college, I spent four years in medical school, followed by six years of surgical residency. Many surgeons end their training there. But, I continued with a one-year fellowship in microsurgery.

Learning does not stop after residency and fellowship. It’s a lifelong process that includes participation in national meetings, development with industry partners, and self-directed learning. This is critically important—to stay on top of cutting edge developments within my field, and to provide the highest level of care to my patients.

Which procedures are requested most?

Nationally, the top two cosmetic surgical procedures are breast augmentation and liposuction. This is mirrored within my practice.

Injectable treatments continue to grow in popularity as patients want to maintain a youthful appearance without having surgery.

What’s the best advice you can give a patient who is thinking about having plastic surgery?

Do your homework.

There are great resources available for patients to get introductory information that allows them to have a well-framed discussion at their consultation.

I also recommend obtaining more than one consultation, but make sure you go to a board certified plastic surgeon. “Cosmetic surgeons” do not have the depth of training required to become a plastic surgeon. Always looks for the American Board of Plastic Surgery (

How do you handle a patient who comes to you with unrealistic expectations?

We have discussions to try to detail their goals. If I don’t believe what they want is obtainable, I frankly tell them that. Ultimately, I tell them I’m not a good match for them.

After all, in plastic surgery, success is measured subjectively.

When not working, what do you do for fun?

Staying fit is important to me. I work out most days of the week. I love to spend time with my family, and my dog, Cadence!


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