The Doctor Behind the ‘Birkin Body’

Join Plastic Surgery Practice Co-Chief Editors Alison Werner and Keri Stephens as they talk to Ryan Neinstein, MD, FRCSC—a board-certified plastic surgeon and owner of Neinstein Plastic Surgery in New York City—who has been dubbed the surgeon’s surgeon. The podcast, which provides a deep dive into Neinstein’s distinctive practice culture, goes into the brain of the man behind the so-called “Birkin Body.”

Neinstein reveals why he set up shop above the iconic Bergdorf Goodman department store and what core principles shape Neinstein Plastic Surgery’s culture. One guiding principle, he explains, is collaboration. Neinstein says he constantly looks to his colleagues for feedback. “It is not a top-down, classic, siloed, corporate structure, where the boss is telling everyone what they’re doing wrong,” he says.

 Neinstein also discusses his unique lifestyle, which he believes sets him up for success as a plastic surgeon, and what plastic surgeons should know before they post on social media. As a bonus, Neinstein shares what’s on his reading list. Believe us, this a podcast you won’t want to miss.

Podcast Transcript

Keri Stephens:
Hello. My name is Keri Stephens and I’m joined today by my co-host, Alison Werner. We are the co-chief editors of Plastic Surgery Practice. Thank you for joining us for today’s podcast. Today, we were joined by Dr. Ryan Neinstein, a board certified plastic surgeon in New York City and owner of Neinstein Plastic Surgery, who has been dubbed the surgeon’s surgeon. Dr. Neinstein’s office is also located above the iconic Bergdorf Goodman department store. He’s here with us today to talk about his unique approach to plastic surgery, how the Birkin Body came to be and how other plastic surgeons can maximize their presence on social media. Dr. Neinstein, thank you so much for joining us today.

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
Thank you so much for having me guys. Thanks, Keri and Alison. This is an absolute pleasure to be here and I’m ready to jump right into this.

Keri Stephens:
Yeah, we’re really happy to have you. I follow you on social media and have been a big fan for-

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
Love it.

Keri Stephens:
But yeah. To start, can you talk about how you got into plastic surgery and a bit about your backstory?

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
Sure. Listen, I still think medicine is the greatest profession in the world. I think there’s very few things in life where you get to provide service to others. There’s constant growth, and you can feel good about what you do when you go home at the end of the day. For young people, I always say, medicine is great. Medicine is great. Medicine is great. I grew up the grandson of Holocaust survivors and it was embedded into my DNA from a young age that it’s important to find a profession where you provide service to others. I was always into competitive sports. I played football and I played rugby all the way through high school and college and that was something that was very important to me. And that kind of teamwork to a collective goal was partly what drove me into medicine. And on the scholastic side, the certainty of science always made a lot of sense to me.

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
When you put teamwork together and the certainty of science, it naturally leads you to medicine. And surgery was something where you can make a direct impact on people’s life quickly and efficiently, and can give you a lot of personal satisfaction. And plastic surgery in and of itself, is one of the unique things in life, or especially in medicine, where you’re not necessarily treating something bad that’s happened to someone like a disease, a trauma, you’re not trying to just bring them back to normal. We actually get to work with engaged people trying to go to a better state and elevated state, and the confidence we can provide people, and the happiness is really fulfilling, and I think makes it a wonderful career choice. And if you can give a lot of people, a lot of confidence and a lot of comfort within themselves, I think you’ve done a lot of good.

Alison Werner:
Excellent. Well, since our brand is about the entire plastic surgery practice from the clinical to the business side, how have you built a strong team at Neinstein Plastic Surgery and what’s unique about your culture there?

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
Well, we have four core principles within our culture and these four principles overlie the underlying themes. Number one, we seek out experts within their field. When we’re looking for an operating room nurse, we want the best operating room nurse. If we’re looking for someone who’s going to be a patient care coordinator, we’re going to go across the street to the Ritz and we’re going to take a concierge, because we want someone who has those innate talents embedded within them.

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
The second thing we look for and our second core principle is really a consistent curiosity for knowledge. We do not look for people who are in neutral or in reverse in life. It is all gas, no breaks here. We want people learning things all the time. And that feeds into our third core principle, which is the generously share knowledge. No one is on an island here. When people learn things from anything within the practice, it’s shared and then the fourth, and which is the hardest thing for people and why we have a select group who join here, you got to be able to take feedback. You’re going to be taking feedback from left, from right, from up, from down.

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
It is not a top down, classic, siloed, corporate structure, where the boss is telling everyone what they’re doing wrong. We’re always helping each other get better by recognizing things that we don’t necessarily see. We all have blind spots. And when you take down the barriers of criticism and know that people are telling you things that you’re missing for a positive, there’s just such more rapid growth. And being dedicated to the growth of others is the real key secret for entrepreneurial success. To me, it’s like your children, it’s like you’re passing on your DNA. You want to see your children succeed. You want to see everyone on your team succeed. Within us, we have people becoming professional photographers, becoming clinical nutritionists. People who are at Wharton in human capital. People are at Harvard in economic studies. People are always trying to better themselves. And when it’s good for the hive, it’s good for the bee.

Alison Werner:
Well, a follow up to that, in New York City where you practice, it’s very saturated with plastic surgeons. I’m wondering, Keri mentioned the fact that your practice is above Bergdorf Goodman. I’m just curious. What is the vibe of your practice, who’s coming to see you and why that location?

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
I always believe that if you want to make a splash and show people that you’re here for real, you go to the best location possible. We have an iconic location. We want to be an iconic practice. Bergdorf Goodman’s been here for 80 years. Neinstein Plastic Surgery wants to be here for 80 years. We’re not looking for a first floor on 1st Avenue. I want penthouse overlooking Central Park, because we’re here to stay. And the DNA embedded within this building is immigrants who came with a skill and created something from nothing, and built it up to provide the people of New York, the people of the world, a diverse collection of clothing from Bergdorf’s and they’ve been avant-garde from the beginning, new things that people thought were different and new and what has become staples in fashion, extrapolating that to us.

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
We have a diverse team. We serve a diverse community. It is the well healed upper east side patients, the Greenwich, Connecticut, Palm Beach, Paris, London, but we also serve a lot of people from RuPaul Drag Race. The diversity of age within my practice is amazing. We have people who have been in the operating room for four years. We have people who have been in the operating room for 40 years. We have people who are from all parts of the earth. We have people from all walks of life, shapes and colors. And that diversity of thought, really allows us to have a lot of creativity and an inertia, but we serve a lot of diverse people from all over the planet. But they have one common unifying feature, they want to look good and feel good and that’s what brings them here. We have a beacon, we’re on the 12th floor at Bergdorf Goodman overlooking Central Park. That’s where you want to be when you’re going to do something like this.

Keri Stephens:
Okay. I have to get into the Birkin Body. I’ve had [inaudible 00:07:20] myself and I follow you on social media and I see your before and afters and they’re amazing. How did the Birkin body come to be?

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
That’s something a lot of our patients have colloquially brought up over a little bit of time. And I guess that I just traced its way into the post. And one of the writers over there, someone probably told someone about it. Listen, what we do is we take plastic surgery, we take it to another level. We’re not trying to do surgery. We’re trying to win surgery. We’re not trying to get through an operation. I’ll do everything possible on this planet to make sure each and every operation is better than possibly could be done. And when you do it that way and you hyper focus and you have a worldwide catchment, it becomes tougher to get in, becomes tougher to get and people want to show it off, similar to the Birkin bag. And it makes sense for the kind of joking name because we’re above Bergdorf, so it all kind of fits. But listen, we’re here to provide the best service possible and sprinkle our magic sauce, which is the patient experience.

Keri Stephens:
With that, can you talk about the recovery and how you incorporate post recovery with your patients?

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
Surgery is not the three hours you are in the operating room. This is an experience and a long term relationship. We are in contact with our patients for years and years and years and probably forever. I have 10 books on my desk that patients have sent me from around the world and we send them back and forth. We get to know these people. It is not a mill. We invest as much time, energy and resources into the operations as the patients are doing back. This is just the way we practice. It’s the way we believe people deserve to be treated in medicine. We think medicine should happen for people, not to people, and that’s something we do.

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
Just to give you a broad strokes view of how we approach recovery, it starts with the pre-op. 30 days before one of our nurse practitioners becomes the Sherpa or the guide for the patient. We believe in nurse practitioners. I like that extra master’s degree that shows the level of maturity and commitment. These people are all in, starts becoming the guide, and we get into diet and Amazon lists for ordering. We have private after nurse teams. These are people who are trained. Systems, processes, not only to ensure everything is safe, but to ensure the experience works well.

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
Our patients are brought over to one of our partner hotels across the street, like the Plaza or the Pierre with our nurses and our aftercare nurses. We have everything set up in the room, flowers delivered, 24-hour care. We have a whole system and process for the way the sheets are laid out. The way the medications are given, everything is done in a certain way, to provide the best experience possible because it’s a big deal. And we talk about all day long, how do we take something that’s scary?

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
How do we take something that’s overwhelming and make it enjoyable? Because nobody wants surgery. Nobody wants to electively be cut in half, but everyone wants what’s on the other side of that mountain. And what’s on the other side of that mountain is confidence. And when you can give a mom specifically for me, I do a lot of mommy makeovers. When you take a mom who hasn’t worn a bikini, who doesn’t feel sexy and you give her, her sex life back, her willingness and happiness to go on vacation and wear bikinis and wear form fitting clothes, you’ve made a dramatic impact on that person’s life and it’s incredibly rewarding to do that.

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
But when we talk about aftercare, this is not giving someone a Word document, see you in a week. That’s the reason I left to go out on my own, was I thought the status quo was awful. I thought I would never want my care like this. I would never want a family member to be cared like this. And I said, “I’m going to do something about it, and I’m just going to go and do it on my own.” We have 25 full-time staff involved in aftercare. Most offices have three people.

Alison Werner:
Can you talk a little bit about the staff roles that you have within that?

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
You need to have a strong organizational chart and within that, you need to have systems and processes for communication and for the way patient information flows to and from the patient. It all starts at the front desk. They’re walking to a restaurant, the maitre d’ is going to set the tempo. They’re the first person you see walking in, the last people you see walking out, those are your patient concierges. They’re really to ensure that the in-house experiences is as great as possible. Then we go onto the back of the house and inside the back of the house, we have a full admin people. We have obviously office managers and we have people working the phones, who are in close connection with the patient concierges and the office managers, then dedicated patient care coordinators are going to help schedule.

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
But then we have a whole team of nursing who are just clinical nurses. These are people who are just direct line of access to the patients. We operate on people from all walks of the globe. Today I operated on people from three different continents. You can’t have a little office where people just show up and have surgery. Dedicated patient concierge nursing, or if someone has a direct access to someone, whichever way they want to communicate, text, WhatsApp, email, we give them direct lines, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
Because what you do is you unburden the complexity and create clarity and through clarity, produces anxiety and you just set yourself up for a win. And we just sent our team to the Disney Institute to work more on just anything we can do for customer care, patient experience. A lot of our team are going down to Patrick Bet-David’s conference next weekend, the Vault, which is an entrepreneurial leadership course, with all the top young gun entrepreneur and leadership people from around the country. I’m sending a whole team of people down there.

Keri Stephens:
Awesome.

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
Yeah. There’s no reason you can’t run your plastic surgery practice, your cardiology practice like any other business. You have a service, you provide it, and people deserve to be treated with all the bells and whistles.

Keri Stephens:
Speaking of plastic surgery practice, what trends and aesthetics are you seeing a lot from your patients, just in general?

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
What’s nice is we don’t see trends because we don’t do things that come and go. We have an aesthetic here, long, lean, elegant lines. We want people to look as good as possible, as natural as possible. And that doesn’t change. The overly voluptuous curves, huge implants, it’s not us. We know who we are, we don’t pretend we’re someone else. Long, lean, natural and athletic, that’s who we are. We’re not going to change. We have that New York attitude. We like things done a certain way to look and that’s who we are. We’re not flippy floppy. We don’t go with the times. We evolve except for the high quality aesthetic we provide. Every other touchpoint in my practice will change. Every six months, most things should be different because I always say in our team’s meeting, “I want to make ourselves obsolete, because I don’t want to ever give anyone a chance to make me obsolete.”

Keri Stephens:
Speaking of that, the long elegant, you talk about the athletic BBL and is that kind of a departure from the traditional BBL?

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
Yeah, we use fat for shaping, not really for volume. I believe that when you’re sculpting the waist and the thighs appropriately, it just needs very little fat, which is super safe and super easy recovery. I think people want better bums, not just bigger bums. I see a lot of patients from Florida and South America that travel up for reverse VBLs, where they’re trying to undo work done elsewhere because the aesthetic didn’t match. I think those are important conversations to have with your surgeon and there’s nothing wrong with those aesthetics. If you want a huge BBL, that’s fine, just know what you’re getting yourself into. Wherever you go in the world, there’s a different style and just make sure you get the style that you are looking for.

Keri Stephens:
Okay. Let’s talk breast implants now. I have breast implants. I had a double mastectomy and had reconstruction and-

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
Oh, I’m so sorry to hear.

Keri Stephens:
Thank you. I know personally, I do worry about breast implant illness and it’s something that is in the news so frequently. And do you think that it’s overblown or not?

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
I think that if you put something in someone’s body, anything, their body’s not going to like it and that’s going to manifest itself in certain ways and I think the answer to that is to take it out. That’s it, yeah. That’s it.

Alison Werner:
Well, okay. I want to shift gears a little bit and let’s talk a little about-

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
If you’re allergic to something, stop using it.

Alison Werner:
Yeah. No, true. Well, I want to switch gears a little bit and talk about something that is what brought you to our attention and that’s your social media presence, particularly on Instagram. Talk to us a bit about how plastic surgeons can use social media to advance their practice and what are those top do’s and don’ts for plastic surgeons that they should be keeping in mind?

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
Well, DaVinci said, “Few men have ever gotten anywhere by things happening to them. You have to do things.” In life, nothing is going… You can’t rely on anyone, nothing’s going to happen to you. But I think it’s super important and if as a patient, I’ve been a patient, any type of medicine, you want to understand your provider. But the number one thing I’m really looking for, is trust. I want to know that I can trust this person. The simplest way on social media is to be transparent about who you are, inside and out of the operating room, inside and out of the practice. Surgery, I wish I had all the pilots for every plane I ever take, its trust. I want to know what this person does at night. I want to know what this person does on the weekend.

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
I’m pretty hyper disciplined. I’m all in. It’s 4:00 AM up reading. I like to read every morning before I start my day. And then it’s in the gym. I like to go to bed early. And a lot of my weekends, it’s exercise, exercise, family, and me and my wife to go to different events with our friends. But we’re out early. The life I live is important to my patients. I think people need to be vulnerable enough, and that’s very scary for most people. You have to be vulnerable enough to show who you are and when people don’t show who they are, that creates confusion because people are then left to guess.

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
I think honestly, having your social media presence, just to be an accurate representation of who you are and what you do, it’s that simple. I think it’s important to be constant and committed to it. People like to see that you were doing the procedure they like frequently. People like to see that the procedure they want is being enjoyed by the patient, so testimonial. People want to see the process from beginning to end. They don’t need to see the details or how the sausage is made in the operating room. People want the baby, not the pregnancy, but it’s important to know. You need to share with people what you do, why you do it and how do they get it. But my number one thing to let people know is be vulnerable, open up. You do not have to be perfect. You do not have to be polished.

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
If I see an account on social media, that’s perfectly polished, I’m immediately turned off because it’s unrealistic and unrepresented and inauthentic. If I’m going to a surgeon, I’d like to see that they have a very stable, personal life, that they’re disciplined, they’re up early. They go to bed early. If I’m going to a surgeon and I’m seeing posting at nightclubs on a Wednesday, I’m at I’m out of here. I’m out. I’m done.

Alison Werner:
That’s a good point.

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
And people’s personality comes out. If people are complaining about people all the time and they’re a negative Nancy or they’re a bully, that’s not a nice thing too. You don’t want to be going into someone who has that kind of mindset. People are very vulnerable when they come to plastic surgeons and they’re going to see themselves and results and people through their own lens. And it’s our responsibility to be able to see things through their lens. It is not a responsibility to try to convince them, to see it through our lens.

Keri Stephens:
Good point.

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
It’s been said for thousands of years, you must seek first to understand, if you want to be understood.

Alison Werner:
Exactly. Well, I have a follow up question.

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
Hit me.

Alison Werner:
Recently, there was a TikTok controversy, TikTok, where a plastic surgeon’s nurse practitioner shared how she would treat the actress Natalie, I think it’s Natalia, or Natalie Dyer, a 27 year old actress from Stranger Things. But then there was more recently, a plastic surgeon who was on Instagram, who critiqued the appearance of the supermodel, Paulina Porizkova, who is I think in her ’50s now and so she recommended procedure she could have done. And there was a lot of backlash with these. And Porizkova actually came out and said, “I don’t appreciate this.” And my question to you is, given the fact that you’re doing a lot of social media, where is that line in terms of having that social media post and getting those likes?

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
First of all, integrity is everything in life. And if you set your life to have a virtuous… You guys are telling me these things, I’ve never even heard of any of this stuff and it seems like absolute nonsense to me. I can’t even understand or comprehend why someone would do any of these. Listen, we get up every day with integrity. We don’t comment about other people. I don’t even understand how any of this is relevant to anything. I don’t understand the upside. How is this committing good to the world? But, I hold myself tolerant of others, strict with myself and my staff believe in that as well, so none of this is even in our atmosphere.

Keri Stephens:
Speaking of integrity, we want to hear more about you outside the office. You’ve told [inaudible 00:22:17], that you are up every morning reading early. To keep your mind sharp, what three books should everyone, whether they’re a plastic surgeon, anyone, which three books should people read and why?

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
You should read, Courage is Calling by my friend, Ryan Holiday because it’s important to… Stoic philosophy has been around for 2000 years. But if you go pick up a copy of Marcus Aurelius’s, Meditations, you’re going to have trouble reading it. It’s dry. It’s in ancient Greek, even when translated into Latin, it’s very difficult to understand. But when you spin it with a modern twist into real life examples, when we talk about Hemingway and Churchill and Mother Teresa, and you can put in Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, all these modern things, you realize doing the right thing for the right reasons, the right way, has been around for 2000 years, and it’s nice to have modern examples because that will help guide you.

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
And that if you’re looking for things that will help you actually not just give you a rah, rah or a warm, fuzzy sense in your heart, you should read Steven Covey’s, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Because when you do these things, if you actually do the things, highly effective people do, as I do all day, every day, things matter. We talked about me waking up at 4:00 AM every day.

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
I don’t do that by accident. What that does, by winning the wake up, I create momentum for the day. I’m up an hour or two before anyone else. In the course of a year, I’m going to get 30 to 40% more done than anyone else. You add that by 10 years, that’s like 3000% more productive. That stuff matters. That’s just simply by setting your alarm early. That’s momentum. Now you’re up, you’re ready to go. You start reading, you get the mind going, you got to lubricate those neurons and those synapses, so your brain is firing and then you hit the gym. Now you’re up early, it’s 5:30 in the morning, your mind’s right, your body’s right, you’re ready to go, so that day, you’ve already won and now you’re just starting your day.

Dr. Ryan Neinstein:
Those things are important. The third book, I would suggest that many people read, and this is just a personal favorite of mine. I’m a big John F. Kennedy fan, and you should read, Profiles in Courage. He won the Pulitzer Prize. I think he was an incredible person. I truly believe in his view of America. America is great when people do hard things with a purpose. And when you do things for your country, not waiting for people to do things for you. And I think if everyone just took a little bit more of that old Jack Kennedy, rah rah, can do, we’d get a lot more accomplished and move things in a straighter line to the ultimate goal.

Keri Stephens:
Well, that was very helpful. And thank you so much, Dr. Neinstein. This conversation was so fun and informative and to our listeners, thank you for joining us for this episode. Be sure to subscribe to the Medcor Podcast Network, to keep up with the latest Plastic Surgery Practice Podcast episodes, and be sure to check out plasticsurgerypractice.com for the latest plastic surgery news. Until next time, take care, thank you.

Published at Thu, 08 Sep 2022 17:18:10 +0000