An original copy of this letter may be ordered from the National Breast Implant Depository in Birmingham, AL.
Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2000 00:35:48 -0600
AMERICAN SOCIETY OF
PLASTIC AND RECONSTRUCTIVE
Lawrence Colen, M.D.
Earle Matory, Jr., M.D.
Sherrell J. Aston,
Vivian Hernandez, M.D.
Jack Gunter, M.D.
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
FROM: Norman M. Cole, M.D.
New York Times 8/10/92
Perhaps the single most overriding concern among the membership of this Society is the image
of the specialty. Certainly the 1991 image audit undertaken by the Society to determine the public's perception of plastic
surgery and plastic surgeons was revealing. For a specialty made up of individuals who have spent more time in training than
almost any other specialty group, it is distressing, indeed, to see that the public perceives the surgery we do to be frivolous
and plastic surgeons to be superficial and ostentatious. The negative aspects of the breast implant controversy has further
eroded our image. Consequently, it comes as no surprise that members currently feel more concern about improving the image
of our specialty than at any other time in its history.
After seeing the photo feature in the New York Times of
August 10, 1992, it would be irresponsible of me if I did not transmit to you the fact that this type of display only reinforces
the negative aspects of our image. Little or no meaningful information was contained within that feature that would cause
the public to believe anything other than what the surveys already show they believe. In addition, it is even more distressing
to know that many of you are perceived by members as being leaders and role models for the specialty.
were victims of an imaginative and deceptive reporter. Perhaps there were actually significant areas of real substance that
were discussed in your interview that could have been of significant value to the public. Perhaps you had every reason to
believe that the feature would be informative and that, it would assist people in better understanding the worthwhile nature
of the work we do and scope of our specialty. Perhaps some of the photographs that occurred were taken in jest and fun. Perhaps
many of the questions that appeared in the feature were asked tongue-in-cheek and perhaps you may have been led to believe
they were off the record. Nonetheless, these superficial National Enquirer-type questions were asked and you gave National
Currently I am receiving scores and scores of letters from members quite justifiably concerned
over the serious image problem this specialty is experiencing. This New York Times feature, in my opinion, did not make any
meaningful contribution to anyone except yourselves. It is an embarrassing example of self-gratification at a time when' this
specialty needed and deserved better.
If this letter offends you then you can perhaps appreciate in some small way
how offensive I found the feature in the New York Times.