DG Q&A: Plastic Surgeon Haideh Hirmand, M.D.
I met Haideh Hirmand at a dinner party given by the amazing Joan Kron (interviewed here) and was immediately impressed with her elegance and insight. A board-certified plastic surgeon in Manhattan, she is an active researcher as well as a practitioner and has a particular interest some of her field’s most precise and delicate procedures: those surrounding the eyes. (Typical research article titles: “Beyond The Tear Trough: An Anatomic Basis for Aesthetic Rejuvenation of the Peri-orbital Area,” and “Patient Safety in Eyelid Rejuvenation.”) Surgery or injections around the eyes are both medically demanding—there’s little margin for error—and aesthetically challenging, since tiny alterations can change the entire look of a person’s face. Patients come to her for her knowledge and skills, of course, but, observed Julia Reed in a 2006 Vogue profile, “it is Hirmand’s matter-of-factness that her patients prize.” We’re delighted she took the time to answer our questions.
DG: What drew you to plastic surgery as a specialty?
HH: The diversity of procedures, the rapidly evolving technology, the strong aesthetic angle, together with the emphasis on creativity and details at the same time. In addition, the possibilities to encompass international work and most importantly the fact that the psyche and the motivation of the person are just as important as the physical indications in planning and treatment.
DG: What are patients hoping for when they come to you? How realistic are they?
HH: It really depends on the patient. They are hoping to look better but in reality this means that they are hoping to feel better. Part of my job is to identify those who will not feel better even if they look better objectively.
DG: What misperceptions do patients have about plastic surgery? How about non-patients?
HH: The biggest one is that there will be “no scars.” And some think that plastic surgery is a substitute for a good attitude and can make them happy. This is a big misconception and can lead to a lot of disappointment.
“Aging gracefully” means different things to different people. To some it means never doing anything to interfere with nature’s course, and for others it means doing everything to prevent nature from taking its toll so that they age gracefully!
As for non-patients, the biggest misconception I have come across is that plastic surgery somehow preys on people’s desires to be young and beautiful.
DG: In stating your practice’s philosophy, you say, “The objective is to maintain elegance regardless of age.” What makes for elegance?
HH: Good taste, an attitude, a language
DG: What do you think of the ideal of “aging gracefully”?
HH: “Aging gracefully” means different things to different people. To some it means never doing anything to interfere with nature’s course and for others it means doing everything to prevent nature from taking its toll so that they age gracefully! I believe everyone has to find their own definition of “aging gracefully” that she or he feels comfortable with.
DG: Are there any new techniques or technologies you're particularly excited about?
HH: I am excited about the newer liposuction technologies. I am an investigator for the FDA study for a radiofrequency based liposuction device, called BodyTite, and we are evaluating its efficacy for skin tightening. There are also ultrasonic noninvasive body-contouring technologies coming down the pipeline. If we can make them work safely, it will revolutionize the field.
For the breast, we have newer tools like dermal matrices, such as Alloderm and the newer Strattice to help with secondary corrections and reconstruction.
On the eyelid and facial front, where I have always maintained a strong interest and subspecialty, it is amazing to learn more about the process of facial aging and to further evolove the techniques to nonsurgically rejuvenate the lower lid with fillers to get rid of the “sunken look.” There will be novel fillers and topicals that can intercept aging in many new ways. But the most exciting thing for me is practicing in an era where I can combine surgery and noninvasive tools in the right dose, for each person for the best results, something that was just not available to my mother’s generation years ago.
The DG Dozen
1) How do you define glamour? Glamour, to me, is a “presence” that is both stunningly attractive and inspirational. A quality that is not limited to physical appearance but encompasses attitude, behavior, and life.
2) Who or what is your glamorous icon? Grace Kelly
3) Is glamour a luxury or a necessity? Neither
5) What was your most glamorous moment? My wedding day in St. Bart when I walked down the aisle in a flowing chiffon dress. I was in the best shape. I was glowing and extraordinarily happy and excited. The light was magical. And I had all my friends and family there.
6) Favorite glamorous object (car, accessory, electronic gadget, etc.)? Antique pearl necklace and earring set given to me by my mom.
7) Most glamorous place? Paris
8) Most glamorous job? What I do. It is pretty glamorous.
9) Something or someone that other people find glamorous and you don’t. Rolls Royce
10) Something or someone that you find glamorous whose glamour is unrecognized. An amazing sailboat
11) Can glamour survive? Yes. Glamour makes an impact and an impression that is timeless.
12) Is glamour something you’re born with? I think it is a combination. Some qualities are inherent and some can be adopted.
1) Angelina Jolie or Cate Blanchett? Cate
2) Paris or Venice? Paris
3) New York or Los Angeles? New York
4) Princess Diana or Princess Grace? Princess Grace
5) Tokyo or Kyoto? Kyoto
6) Boots or stilettos? Stilleto boots
7) Art Deco or Art Nouveau? Art Deco
8) Jaguar or Astin Martin? Astin Martin
9) Armani or Versace? Armani
10) Diana Vreeland or Anna Wintour? Anna Wintour
11) Champagne or single malt? Champagne but only fine champagne
12) 1960s or 1980s? ’80s.
13) Diamonds or pearls? Diamonds
14) Kate Moss or Naomi Campbell? Naomi
15) Sean Connery or Daniel Craig? Sean Connery
[Photograph of Haideh Hirmand © Evan Sung, used with permission.]