The most reassuring words any surgeon can tell a patient are, “If I would do this operation to you, I would do it to one of my family members.” That’s exactly what Dr. G. Courtney Houston tells every patient who walks through the doors of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Center in Thomasville, Georgia.
“I’ve always practiced that way,” Dr. Houston said of his medical philosophy. “I don’t operate on everybody that comes in the office. That’s been my goal, to treat people like I would want my family treated.”
Dr. Houston grew up on a farm in Early County, Georgia, and initially opened a plastic surgery practice in Albany in January 1988 before relocating to Thomasville in June 1989, where he’s been ever since.
“I grew up in this area, and I wanted to be close to my family,” he said. “I have a handicapped, blind, autistic brother that she (my mom) was taking care of, and I knew at some point I was going to end up having to have them live closer to me.”
Like many college students, Dr. Houston flipped between a few potential career paths before settling on going into medicine.
“I changed what I wanted to be multiple times from being a vet to a pharmacist to going to medical school,” he said. “I always wanted to be a surgeon after I decided to go to medical school.”
After practicing General Surgery in Moultrie for several years, he decided to return to training to specialize in Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery.
“The reconstructive part to me is more challenging, and it’s rewarding to try to make people whole again or feel like they’re whole again,” he said.
One particular patient, “a nice, old country gentleman,” that Dr. Houston saw several times a week had a large impact on him as a doctor.
“I had this patient that had squamous cell carcinoma of his sinuses, and he ended up losing an eye, and I helped fix that,” Dr. Houston said. “And then he had metastasis to his brain and had to have part of his skull removed. I did a large myocutaneous flap to cover that hole in his head and followed him until he passed away. We knew it was a palliative procedure, but he didn’t want to go out of town for what we call a free flap, so I told him I would be willing to try this myocutaneous flap that was questionable whether it would reach or not.”
The most common cosmetic surgeries Dr. Houston performs are breast procedures, tummy tucks, face lifts, and eyelid procedures.
“I think liposuction is still probably the biggest procedure nation-wide, but we don’t do as much liposuction as they do in some areas of the country,” he said.
As for repairing “botched” surgeries, Dr. Houston usually tries to refer unsatisfied patients back to their original surgeons.
“Most of it is just little things that patients are more and more critical of results, think they’re going to look like Barbie Doll or like they were 18 again, which most people aren’t,” he said. “The results vary with the patient. There are all kinds of things that come into play. There’s skin, quality of skin, their age, whether or not they’ve got a lot of loose skin, especially when it comes to breast lifts and things like that. There are multiple players in the results.”
For his own patients, Dr. Houston lets them know up front that results vary from person to person.
“I’ve got pre- and post-op pictures of my patients that I’ve done over the years,” he said. “I always tell them when I’m showing them any, whether it’s breasts or abdominoplasty, I tell them, ‘This is the good, the bad, and the ugly,’ because I don’t just show my best results. I show all kinds of results, so I hope that they can get an idea that everybody doesn’t get the same result. Unfortunately, a lot of times people aren’t listening to you during a consultation.”
Just like results, recovery times vary depending on the patient and the procedure.
“As a general rule with augmentation, mammoplasty, or just implants, most of my patients, if they do it on a Thursday, which is my operating day, they can go back to a non-physical labor job on Monday if they’re not taking pain pills,” Dr. Houston said.
“Most of them can do that. Now, you’ve got the extremes ones that hurt for six weeks and the ones that come in and the next day drive themselves to the beach against my better judgment (laughs). Abdominoplasties are more uncomfortable, probably a week to 10 days, and they should not be doing any strenuous abdominal stuff, straining and lifting, for six to eight weeks because of the muscle work that we did. Breast lifts alone and breast reductions usually don’t have a lot of discomfort because it’s all soft tissue; you’re not doing any muscle work. It all varies. Face lifts – I do limited incision facelifts, sutures come out in most of them in five days. Some of them never take a pain pill. It’s remarkable how quickly the face heals, and it’s always rewarding to see the difference a week to 10 days makes.”
The Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Center has an on-site state licensed operating room, and they contract with major health insurers like Blue Cross Blue Shield and United Health Care. An anesthesiologist from the hospital sits in on every surgery to administer and monitor anesthesia.
“I can say that in the 22 years we’ve been operating in our surgery suite, we’ve not had to take anybody to the hospital,” Dr. Houston said. “They’ve all gone home and done well.”
3D Imaging: The Next Dimension of Plastic Surgery
Would you like to preview your plastic surgery results? The Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Center offers Thomasville’s first three-dimensional modeling system. The Canfield Vectra 3D photography system allows Dr. Houston to show you a simulation of your post-surgery results from augmentation mammoplasty. This provides you with information that will assist you in selecting your choice of implant size.
The Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Center has an on-site medical spa with licensed professionals trained in treating a wide variety of skin care needs, including products, fillers, spider vein treatment, and hair removal.
Written by: Anna Limoges