Why I became a cosmetic surgeon

Dr. Courtney Caplin performs cleft palate repairs on mission trips to third world countries. Photos provided.

by Courtney Caplin, MD, DMD
Cosmetic Surgery Columnist

I am often asked by patients, how I ended up at Cosmetic Surgery Affiliates in Oklahoma City. When I was 17, I shadowed a craniofacial surgeon and decided that is what I wanted to become when I grew up, focusing on the repair of cleft lip and palates.

After extensive research, I learned that the best route was to become a dual degree (DMD and MD) oral and maxillofacial surgeon and then complete a fellowship in craniofacial surgery after general surgery.

I embarked on this journey, and along this very long path, I went on several mission trips to treat underprivileged people in third world countries, mostly children with cleft lip and palates.

Of note I should say that along the way, I always enjoyed cosmetic surgery as well, but it was not until the end of my training during my general surgery residency where I had a change of heart. I was getting ready to start applying for fellowship programs, and my mentors guided me toward cosmetic surgery instead.  

Cleft lip and palate occur approximately one in 650 people here in the US. There are too many craniofacial surgeons for the number of patients in the U.S., and if I became a craniofacial surgeon, I would be tied to an academic institution and not have enough work to keep me busy.

My mentors said, “Courtney, you love Cosmetics, you are good at it and well suited for it. Why not apply for a fellowship in Cosmetic Surgery and be able to make a living? In your free time, you can afford to go on mission trips to third world countries where there is a great need, and you can have the best of both worlds.” So, this is what I did.

One of the reasons I have been so happy with my choice of a career in Cosmetic Surgery is that my patients are happy too. In many fields of medicine, patients are sick, injured, hurting or even dying. In cosmetic surgery, this is not the case. The majority of my patients are healthy and happy. Performing cosmetic surgery not only improves the external appearance but also restores confidence to the individual.

Surgery day is one of the happiest days of their lives and follow up appointments after surgery bring tears of joy from extremely grateful and deserving patients. It is an extremely rewarding feeling to be able to help a patient achieve a result which is typically in one of two categories: back to how they used to be or how they felt they should have been.

I have now worked at Cosmetic Surgery Affiliates in Oklahoma City and provide exclusively full body and facial cosmetic surgery for the past three years. I am also part-time faculty for the University of Oklahoma and help teach students and residents.

We are working on planning our next mission trip abroad, but in the meanwhile, I regularly volunteer at our local Boys and Girls Club.

Copyright The Gayly. 2/25/2019 @ 12:11 p.m. CST.