see plastic surgeons as doctors or take cosmetic procedures seriously when it comes to safety and aftercare. “They see us as a high-priced beauty consultant. But this is medicine,” says Griffin, who also specializes in surgical techniques for African American and other ethnic skin types.
People of color accounted for 23% of the 11.5 million cosmetic procedures performed in the United States in 2006. Only 3% of board-certified plastic surgeons are African American. Griffin is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgery and a diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgery. While about 90% of his practice is cosmetic, the other 10% is reconstructive surgery.
The Beverly Hills doctor is involved with Operation Smile, a group that organizes annual missions around the world to reconstruct childhood facial deformities at no cost. Griffin gained expertise in repairing cleft lip and palate deformities during his residency at the University of Southern California. He went on his first Operation Smile mission to Kenya in 1995, where he met and later married his wife, a registered nurse. “After 45 minutes of changing a kid’s life forever, I realized this is what I am supposed to be doing,” says Griffin, who has since gone on more than 10 missions. “At times, 300 to 400 kids will show up and we can only do 150. I usually do five to seven a day or about 70 cases in all.” -Carolyn M. Brown
Lytton A. Kunle-Williams, M.D., M.B.A.
Title: Spine Surgeon, Los Angeles Spine Surgery Institute, St. Vincent
Specialty: Spinal Deformities
Williams performs spinal surgeries worldwide while demonstrating new orthopaedic instrumentation, techniques, and approaches. Williams and his wife, Antonia, created The Sierra Leone Children’s Charity Fund, a project of the National Heritage Foundation.
Shearwood J. McClelland, M.D., M.P.H.
Title: Director, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Harlem Hospital Center
Specialty: Orthopaedic Surgery, Total Joint Surgery
McClelland attempts individualized care for patients who mostly arrive via the emergency room suffering trauma injuries. To achieve positive outcomes, his approach recognizes public hospital patients’ wider backgrounds of
pre-existing health problems and socioeconomic challenges.
Michael L. Parks, M.D.
Title: Assistant Attending Orthopaedic Surgeon, Hospital for Special Surgery
Specialty: Joint Replacement, Knee and Hip Revision Surgery
This New York orthopaedic surgeon specializes in hip and knee reconstructions. He weighs individual patients’ function and pain when determining surgical or non-surgical alternatives for treating arthritis. His clinical interests include minimally invasive hip and knee replacement surgery.
Edward A. Rankin, M.D.
Title: Founder, Rankin Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Center
Specialty: Adult Reconstruction and Hand Surgery
Rankin made history in March when he was elected the new president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons-the first African American to be named to the position. He is currently the chief of orthopaedic surgery service at Providence Hospital in Washington, D.C., performing adult reconstruction and hand surgery.
Claudia L. Thomas, M.D.
Title: Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Johns Hopkins School of
Medicine; Orthopaedic Surgeon, Tri-County Orthopaedic Center
Specialty: Orthopaedic Surgery
Thomas is the first African American woman to become an orthopaedic surgeon in the U.S. She is in private practice, specializing in nonoperative medicine. A champion of