If we stop to see the exquisite beauty in the world around us, we would treat the earth and all of its living creatures better. My hope is for everyone to feel beautiful and to be seen. I want others to see the beauty that I see in them and to look for it in others. If people can see each other for the amazing ways that we are different and yet at our core so similar, many of the worlds problems would be better. We are all connected to each other and to the universe and each of us needs to be the best stewards of ourselves and the world around us. I hope by example and by collective action that I can help spread my love and passion to others and that they will in turn be inspired to do the same. I am always brainstorming ways that I can make the most impact. I hope to shed a light on the marginalized in society
I had the pleasure to interview Mary Lynn Moran, MD, facial plastic surgeon and president-elect of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS).
Thank you so much for joining us Dr. Moran. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to become a surgeon?
I come from a family of physicians and other healthcare professionals so medicine is the family business. From a young age I was always a spatially and visually oriented person and greatly enjoyed working with my hands. My father was a psychiatrist so I also was attuned to the importance of emotional well-being. Facial plastic surgery allows me to combine both of those passions. Along the way, there were many other “aha” moments. The anatomy of the head and neck is the most complex and concentrated area of the body and it also happens to be beautiful. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel and see inspirational works of art all over the world depicting the face in many forms. I had mentors during medical school and surgical training that modeled and nurtured in me that traits that I admire most about the medical profession. My work fulfills me on so many levels intellectually, artistically, and spiritually. The face is the outward reflection to the world of who a person is. When someone trusts you with their face, it is an honor and a huge responsibility. I get a deep satisfaction knowing that I help empower someone to feel their best.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help patients + industry?
I am currently starting my practice over in a new state. I moved from California a few years ago to the Nashville area. I tried working for another practice for a year but after running my own practice for 22 years I found the lack of autonomy difficult. I have a very specific and personal way that I like to deliver my care to patients. I happen to be the only female Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon in the state of Tennessee so I believe that I can offer a unique set of skills and experience to my patients. The laws in Tennessee regulating the aesthetic medical industry are very unclear so I am afraid that the local market is flooded with people with little to no experience in the field. It is an exciting industry and many people are drawn to it for both good and not so good reasons. I was on the Medical Board of California for 7 years and I thought I had seen it all but the laws there are much more clearly spelled out.
I hope to offer the community a place where they can count on my Board Certification and training, my years of experience, and my commitment to the safest and expert care they deserve. I have a unique perspective as a woman since I am a part of the demographic of the majority of my patients. I know that they want to be heard and that most of them do not want to look different, in fact most of them just want to look they way they used to look.
I did a help to invent a product and start a company that went public when I was in Silicon valley and have also done a fair bit of research in the past. At the moment, I have my hands full but I think the bug may hit me again to create something that addresses an unmet need.
What do you think makes your approach as president of the AAFPRS stand out? Can you share a story?
I am the first woman to be elected president of the AAFPRS in over 50 years of existence. I believe women lead from a different perspective. We tend to be more collaborative in our approach to leadership. Most women leaders are not as driven by ego as their male counterparts. That takes a lot of the burden off of the leadership role and allows you to get down to the business of doing what is best for the organization that you serve with a clearer view. I know that I will be not be able to make everyone happy at the same time. I grew up with a people pleasing personality but I have had to shed that co-dependency as I have taken on more responsibilities, especially motherhood. I just don’t have the bandwidth anymore to worry constantly about disappointing people.
We now have so many more woman in our specialty and I am in awe of how capable they are. I didn’t have many women role models as I was in training but ironically I am finding much inspiration from this new generation. It is such an honor to represent them at the leadership level. I have also had to adjust my tolerance for behaviors that we saw as “normal” behavior going through residency during the time that I did. Sexual innuendo and even harassment was seen as part of the “boys club” culture of the times. If you were a woman and chose to go into surgery, it was just a part of the deal. Now, when inappropriate comments are made I feel a responsibility to speak up on behalf of the other women. Fortunately it is rare.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting. Ralph Walso Emerson
I am more inspired by the actions of those I admire than words but some people have a beautiful way of capturing an idea. Beauty is everywhere and even on our darkest days, if you can manage to find something of beauty, you will find hope and love. One of the most challenging times in my life was when I had just been diagnosed with melanoma, my parents were both dying painful deaths from cancer, and I was a single Mom running a solo medical practice with huge responsibilities. Holding my brand new beautiful baby boy allowed me to see the grace that we can always find if we are humble and appreciate all the blessings around us. I will forever be inspired by my Cystic Fibrosis patients who were everyday heroes. I never met one who didn’t face death and suffering with amazing grace and optimism. Any time I think I am having a bad day, I stop and think of the courage and gratitude they possessed when even taking a single breath was a struggle that we cannot fathom. Life was sweeter for them since they knew from a very early age that their days on this planet were numbered. My work with them has forever changed my perspective on life. When I see a patient in my office, I do not think about what is wrong with them, I first look at what is beautiful about them and try to help them see that as well. As a surgeon and an artist I can help to highlight and enhance that beauty.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be?
If we stop to see the exquisite beauty in the world around us, we would treat the earth and all of its living creatures better. My hope is for everyone to feel beautiful and to be seen. I want others to see the beauty that I see in them and to look for it in others. If people can see each other for the amazing ways that we are different and yet at our core so similar, many of the worlds problems would be better. We are all connected to each other and to the universe and each of us needs to be the best stewards of ourselves and the world around us. I hope by example and by collective action that I can help spread my love and passion to others and that they will in turn be inspired to do the same. I am always brainstorming ways that I can make the most impact. I hope to shed a light on the marginalized in society both in my role as the president of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and in my practice in my new home through affiliating with and serving local community organizations.
Thank you for this opportunity!