When considering plastic surgery on the face it’s paramount that you find a highly specialized doctor who you are confident can produce natural-looking results so you can move forward with a renewed, more youthful looking you.
Dr. Brent Smith chose the face as a palette for his artistry. Then he achieved double board certification in face, neck, and nose and throat specialties to back up his artistic inspiration with science.
The intersection of art and science
Medicine and art run in the Smith family. Dr. Smith’s father was a family practice physician who became a beacon in the small Indiana community where the Smiths raised their children. He helped children with sports physicals and families with all sorts of physical conditions. He was a provider as well as a mentor before Dr. Smith knew what that even meant.
“I was always influenced by my father. He was so respected in the community,” says Dr. Smith. “But also he enjoyed what he did tremendously. And seeing how happy it made him, I wanted the same thing. I wanted to be like my dad.”
But his mother, an accomplished painter, was also an influence. At home both art and music were constant reminders of the beauty and harmony in the world. His sister went on to earn a Ph.D. in religious art at Oxford. “She tells me that we do the same thing, really. Only she does hers with plaster and my art involves skin, cartilage and bones,” he says.
“But imagine an artist painting a tree. It can look like a cartoon or very realistic like a bird could fly right into the canvas. That’s my goal: for everything to fit the face and have someone not look like they’ve had plastic surgery.”
Facial plastic surgery is a natural fit for someone like Dr. Smith. At a young age he was fascinated by finding symmetry in all things. “I was creative. I was always interested in making things. But I wanted things to look right, to have harmony,” he says. “And because the face is out in the open and you can’t cover it with a blouse or slacks, all of my work has to be just right.”
He describes the best plastic surgeons as doctors who compose a face like a song. “If one person is out of key, the whole song is ruined. All of the parts have to fit together.”
To ensure that happens with each and every patient, Dr. Smith always meets one-on-one first. “I try to look at how all of the parts of the face complement one another” he says. “That’s aesthetics. We can’t just be mechanical. We can’t just go through the motions.”
Studying and practicing for the face
Getting it right in facial plastic surgery requires creativity, intelligence, diligence and training. And, Dr. Smith put in the hard work. He went to medical school at the prestigious Indiana University, where his father taught the craft to wide-eyed freshmen.
Dr. Smith, and many other future doctors, took the senior Smith’s advice: “Choose a field you truly enjoy and you’ll never have to work another day in your life.” That’s how Dr. Smith feels and is privileged to do what he does each day.
But to become an expert in the facial plastic surgery niche, Dr. Smith went beyond college and med school — and even beyond the naysayers who suggested he’d never make it in such a narrow segment of plastic surgery. He proved them all wrong.
“A lot of peers would say that the body is the bulk of work in most plastic surgery and that I’d never make it just focusing on the face,” Dr. Smith says. “Now a vast majority of our patients come in because I specialize in the face.”
To make sure he was armed with every tool possible, he secured exclusive fellowships and earned not just one but two board certifications from the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology/Head & Neck surgery.
“If I’m going to do something, I want it to be the best it can be,” he says. So Dr. Smith also pursued a full year of training in the nuances of plastic surgery on the face. That was a choice, not a requirement. And at the time it was very rare. Only a handful of specialty plastic surgeons were taking their education to that level.
“For me, that extra training under a pioneer doctor in facial plastic surgery was like an apprentice training under someone like da Vinci or Michelangelo,” he says. “It truly refined what I was able to do in my own practice.”
Three decades, thousands of faces later
Dr. Smith has honed his skills over nearly 30 years and thousands of unique faces. Often he performs more facial procedures in two weeks than a general plastic surgeon will log in a year. And today, Dr. Brent Smith is considered one of the finest facial plastic surgeons in the country.
But that hasn’t gone to his head. Dr. Smith still meets with every patient personally. “We talk about what concerns them, what they notice when we look in the mirror together and what their wishes are,” he says. “But to be thorough, I show them what I think they could benefit from, sometimes in addition to or instead of what they may have thought was needed.”
Then patients walk through computer imaging scenarios showing a preview of how they could look if they added or subtracted certain aspects of a face, neck and cheek lift procedures. After an honest conversation with Dr. Smith, seeing their future face on screen and learning about Dr. Smith’s vast experience in the sub-specialization of facial plastic surgery, most patients are motivated to book surgery.
It turns out that caring about your craft — and people — still matters. “For traditional artists, their works hang in a gallery,” Dr. Smith says. “My art is alive. My gallery is the faces of the people walking around our community.”