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A Conversation With Dr. Simeon Wall Jr.
Dr. Simeon Wall Jr., the originator of SAFELipo®, has built an impressive curriculum vitae filled with some of the most prestigious honors and significant achievements a plastic surgeon can attain.
But there’s much more to this plastic surgeon than credentials.
Why did you choose plastic surgery as a career?
I’ve always loved plastic surgery – and when I say always, I mean from my earliest memories. I have memories of being 4 years old, standing up on two step stools in the Emergency Room handing gauze to my dad. I’m a second-generation plastic surgeon. I was working with my dad as an orderly and a scrub tech by age 12. In med school, I thought for a while that I wouldn’t become a surgeon because I grew up seeing how hard my dad worked and how much he was away from the family, but when I got into my surgical rotations I realized that for me, there was no point in being a doctor if I couldn’t be a surgeon. Specifically, in plastic surgery, each patient has a unique challenge, with their specific problems, so that we have to use all our knowledge and skills for each individual patient. Unlike other kinds of surgical specialties where you may do the same thing time after time, no two surgeries are the same in plastic surgery – and that keeps me always striving to do better, to want to be the best at what I do. I love the artistry, finesse, and judgement aesthetic plastic surgery requires.
How did you come up with SAFELipo?
It started as a solution for issues I was faced with in performing revision, or corrective liposuction. When I first started practice, my father, Dr. Simeon Wall Sr., asked me to treat several patients who already had liposuction before, or they had experienced contour irregularities as a result of procedures performed elsewhere. I had to learn quickly how to treat all these patients, and that’s where the birth of SAFELipo came from. At the time, I had no idea that what I was doing was so different, or so significant, in addressing contour problems and unevenness in these patients. Over time, I realized I could do things with SAFELipo I could never dream of doing with other liposuction techniques, so I started using it for all my body-contouring procedures. That was several years ago now and it’s been amazing to see so many other respected plastic surgeons around the world take up SAFELipo. My two partners have also been instrumental in furthering the ideas and principles that underpin SAFELipo. Those two partners are my father, Simeon Wall Sr., and my wife, Holly Wall, each of whom are amazing plastic surgeons and even better people.
And now you’re one of the world’s foremost authorities on body contouring.
It’s been a great honor to speak all over the world about my work. I’ve met some very interesting people and I’ve actually learned a lot through teaching others. In the end, though, it all comes down to doing a really great job for one person who trusts his or her surgery to me, and then doing that again and again, giving each patient my very best effort.
What is your involvement in the education of other plastic surgeons?
In addition to serving as faculty at some of the world’s most prestigious conferences and symposia over the last several years, I’ve been appointed by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) as a Traveling Professor, which is a great honor. Getting to teach and interact with the next generation of plastic surgeons has been so rewarding to me. I’ve met some amazing people in some interesting places, and performing live surgery at some of these meetings has been a special honor.
Weren’t you the youngest surgeon ever to perform live surgery at the prestigious Baker-Gordon Symposium?
The Baker-Gordon meeting in Miami is probably the world’s premier live surgery symposium. Dr. Jim Stuzin, who has organized that meeting for a couple of decades, likes to remind me that he may have been younger than I was when he first operated there, but it was close! Being a part of that meeting is such a great honor for me, being a part of that great tradition of master surgeons, being a part of that history.
You’re one of the world’s top plastic surgeons. Why practice in Louisiana?
Hey, Louisiana is awesome! Of course we could live wherever we want – and we do. I grew up here. I’m a fourth generation Louisianan, half Chinese and all. When Holly and I finished residency at Stanford, we thought about staying in the Bay Area or heading down to Southern California. Holly told me, “How many people get to go back home and live out a dream of working alongside someone world-class in their field – who also happens to be their father? Let’s move to Shreveport and work with Daddy Wall.” What a great decision that was looking back. Holly is right a lot. We have an amazing practice here in Shreveport. We have a great staff, and we have great patients. It would be hard to find this anywhere else.
How do you stay competitive when your prices aren’t the lowest?
Again, we’ve got great patients. The kind of patients we attract aren’t looking for a commodity, they aren’t looking for something that’s “just good enough” for the cheapest price. Our patients talk to their friends and family, to their doctors. They want to know – “Who is going to listen to me? Who is going to actually care about how my results turn out? Who is going to treat me the same way they treat their loved ones? Who can I trust to tell me what I really need, even if it’s not going to make them any money? Who performs the very best surgery and doesn’t cut any corners?” Price is usually way down on that list. It’s always a huge compliment to hear from a patient, “I could have gone anywhere in the country, and I came to you, Dr. Wall.” I appreciate the compliment, but I also take that responsibility seriously.
The world has sort of beaten a path to your door. What Makes The Wall Center so unique?
It started with my father. Because my dad built up such an amazing word-of-mouth practice over four decades, it’s allowed us to be blessed with an abundance of patients who trust us to do the right thing for them. We’ve never really had to market ourselves or had to push surgeries or services on people who weren’t candidates for them. We don’t feel like we have to operate on every person who comes through our door. At our practice, it’s OK to tell someone, “No, you don’t need surgery. It’s not worth it for you.” Some people don’t want to hear that, but our main goal is to do the right thing for every person who comes to see us. It’s a challenge sometimes, but I think most of the patients appreciate it.
It seems like it’s always so busy here at The Wall Center. Do you ever have a slow time of the year?
We’re blessed to be as busy as we are. As members of Mentor Corporation’s LEAD program, Allergan’s Black Diamond partner program, and Sientra’s post-approval study, we have just about every type of FDA approved breast implant right here at our fingertips. That’s good for patients. As one of the top breast enhancement and body contouring practices in the U.S., we have access to some devices and products many other practices can’t get or can’t afford. That’s also good for patients. The vast majority of our clientele consists of either return patients or word-of-mouth referrals from other patients or physicians. You can’t build that type of reputation overnight, or with advertising; you have to build it over many, many years, and earn it patient by patient. We’re proud of that reputation.
What do you want your legacy as a surgeon to be?
I hope my legacy as a surgeon will mirror my father’s: that I was never influenced by anything other than doing the right thing for my patients. I also want to leave plastic surgery better than I found it. I hope I can continue to contribute things of value to our specialty and to our patients.