We may know him as one of Denver’s most sought-after plastic surgeons and wellness experts, but Gregory A. Buford, MD, FACS, PCEO is an all-around great guy with a host of talents and a zest for life, as well as a devotion to his patients. It’s hard to pin this busy guy down, but we managed to get in a great chat with Dr. Buford about his life both inside and outside the OR.
On becoming a plastic surgeon…
What drew you to the field of medicine?
When I was 4 years old, I told my parents I wanted to be a doctor and asked them to call me “Dr. Bill.” I will never know what initially inspired me, as I was the first in my family to pursue a career in medicine, but I have never looked back. Over the last 16 years, I have had the enviable opportunity to interact with patients from all walks of life and change their lives for the better. While medicine is an incredibly demanding profession, if entered for the right reasons, it is also incredibly rewarding.
What inspired you to pursue the plastic surgery path?
With all due respect to other fields of medicine, there is truly no other that offers the ability to perform surgical procedures as an artistic endeavor and achieve a result that is entirely your own. During my medical school training at Georgetown, I had the opportunity to interact with some of the top plastic surgeons in the world, who instilled in me a sense of creativity and a deep sense of wonder when it came to the art of plastic surgery.
While patients often seek a specific end point, I have learned that there are numerous ways to achieve someone’s goal and to create a happy patient. Plastic surgery challenges me to look more deeply at the definition of beauty and inspires me to continually raise the bar it terms of what I do for my patients.
…and being a leader and innovator in aesthetic medicine.
What do you love most about your work?
Plastic surgery is like no other medical specialty—there is no single way to perform the procedures we offer to our patients. This makes each plastic surgeon a pioneer of sorts. For instance, while most plastic surgeons perform breast augmentation using a similar method, over time I have adjusted and perfected my technique and made it truly my own, based on what has worked best for my patients—one literally cannot get the same exact results from anyone else. By stretching the boundaries of my profession, I have cultivated a career that is ever-changing and keeps me physically and mentally challenged on many levels.
If you weren’t a plastic surgeon, what would you do for a career?
I am incredibly interested in the growth of telemedicine, so I probably would have started my own company in the tech space. I love being at the intersection between technology and medicine and see the future unfold as new possibilities for patient care and treatment options develop. I bring this entrepreneurial spirit to my practice. It has driven me to build a national consulting business and inspired me to write two books. I continually challenge myself by spreading my talents across multiple platforms related to medicine.
Can you recall a patient experience that touched you, where you felt that you made a life-changing impact?
Rather than a single experience, I can recall many that left me with great appreciation for the trust that my patients have placed in me. As my practice has grown, I have had the honor of helping a number of patients who were unhappy with their results of a previous cosmetic surgery gain a fresh start.
As any plastic surgeon will tell you, performing revisionary surgery is completely different than performing the initial procedure—it keeps you on your toes at all times. I’m required to think outside of the box and use my training and experience to arrive at new approaches to difficult problems. Such procedures have pushed my expertise to new levels and made me a better surgeon in the process.
Are there any new technologies or treatments that you’re excited about?
Aesthetic medicine is an exciting field that is constantly changing, resulting in even better options for patients. Combination therapy is a new and rapidly growing approach, which combines products and procedures to create a synergistic effect and achieve far better results compared to single-therapy treatment. In the area of facial rejuvenation, I more and more often combine energy-based devices, injectables, skincare, and procedures such as micro-needling to create a more dramatic result that is more natural-looking as well.
Dr. Buford Outside of the Operating Room
When you’re not at work, where are you most likely to be found?
You’ll find me on a plane! I travel a fair amount for both business and pleasure, and I love it. Through travel, I have learned not only about other cultures and people, but I have also learned about myself. Travel pushes me outside my comfort zone, which is something I encourage of everyone. Some of the most successful people I know intentionally take time to experience life outside their “bubble” and participate in activities that are completely different than what others would expect. A good example of this was my week at Burning Man. Despite what many think about this strange and wonderful event, it is truly an eye-opener, and the experience taught me to look at life in a different way.
The same is true of my recent trip to southeast Asia. I remember sitting atop of a Cambodian temple just outside of Siem Reap at 5:30 in the morning with only a few other people around me. Buddhist monks from a monastery across the street were chanting as the sun crested over the horizon. We were transfixed by the grandeur around us as well as the knowledge that generations before us had shared this experience since the temple’s construction over 1,000 years ago. If you want your problems to feel insignificant, sit on a temple in the rain forest in the early morning. It really puts things in perspective.
If you had two weeks to yourself, what would you do?
I would travel somewhere with my camera and a few good books. Getting away from home now and then helps to clear my mind and put things in perspective.
What do you love about Denver?
I love the scenery and the people. Denverites are happy and live life to the fullest. They tend to be worldly and open to change, and embrace new ways of thinking. I have lived in other areas across the country and find that this is not always the case in every city. For now, I couldn’t think of living anywhere else.
Do you have any hobbies?
I’ve been an avid photographer ever since the 7th grade, when I was a class photographer and developed film the old-fashioned way. Over the years, I grew to appreciate the art as a way to capture what I call “stolen moments” around me. I am most passionate about photographing people on the streets in their natural environment. Photography has helped me to look at beauty from multiple angles, which I bring into my practice.
I also love to cook. I grew up living the farm-to-table movement before it was even called that. My family cooked together, we grew our own fruits and vegetables, and bought the rest from farmers around us. We lived simply and grew to appreciate the benefits of real food. This passion has only grown with me and inspired me to write Eat Drink Heal: The Art and Science of Surgical Nutrition.
What’s in your fridge at home right now?
I shop like a European, so you will usually find very little in my refrigerator aside from a few pre-prepped meals. I eat whatever I make fresh and have very few leftovers. As such, my refrigerator is a little bare.
Do you have anything you’d like the Denver community to know about you?
With all the mystique that has developed around plastic surgery, I find that many people have no idea how down-to-earth many of plastic surgeons really are. Patients want more than a technician performing their surgery. They want a human being. I try and engage with my patients and identify common experiences and common likes and show them that who I really am. I proudly display my photography in the office and am excited when I can share stories behind these photos with patients. Ultimately, the more patients know about their surgeon, the more comfortable they become throughout the process. This builds trust between patient and surgeon—a trust that is essential for a great experience and great results.