“If you open any textbook regarding plastic surgery, the face that’s always pictured is an Anglo-looking woman with a pencil-thin nose,” says Dr. Michael E. Jones. “That just isn’t our community. Where’s the textbook written on us?”
As founder and director of Lexington Plastic Surgeons, Jones gradually went from one location and one part-time employee in 2000 to a full-time staff of 10 and four locations across the country — New York City; Hackensack, New Jersey; Washington, D.C.; and Beverly Hills, California. Over the course of the journey, he found not only a niche, but a booming business; in 2007, Lexington Plastic Surgeons grossed $2.3 million. Revenues are expected to reach $3 million by the end of this year due to pursuing new markets as well as opening additional offices.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that nearly 12 million procedures were performed in the $12.4 billion cosmetic surgery industry in 2007, with nearly a quarter of those being performed on ethnic patients (a 129% rise since 2000).
The board certified Maryland native and graduate of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons likes to think he plays a small role in this growth.
Today, Jones’ patients — some of whom travel from as far away as Europe to see him — include men and women of various ethnicities and ages. Their most commonly requested surgical procedures are rhinoplasty (nose reshaping), liposuction, face-lifts, Botox, the Brazilian butt lift, and breast augmentation. Jones, 39, performs rhinoplasty and face-lifts using techniques he’s developed to minimize and eliminate the unsightly scars that mainstream procedures can leave on ethnic skin.
“They don’t teach you how to be a businessperson in medical school,” says the husband and father of four. Luckily, Jones majored in economics as an undergrad at Columbia University.
With help from his wife, Jones turned the ground floor of their townhouse into his first office and procedure rooms. Forty-thousand dollars of their personal savings went toward the new office space, malpractice and business insurance, medical supplies and equipment, and payroll. “We hired a receptionist, hung the shingle, and opened the doors,” Jones says. “Nobody came.” It was a rude awakening after years of hard work and preparation.
The medical establishment frowned upon commercial advertising at that time, but Jones had a hunch. If the ethnic community knew a practice existed specifically geared to their needs, they’d come in droves. So he went against the grain, investing in newspaper, radio, and eventually television advertising to get the word out. By the second year of operation, gross revenues had doubled.
Next year, Jones plans to launch Lexington Plastic Surgeons Medical Spa and Salon — a Manhattan-based one-stop-shop where patrons can receive beauty as well as plastic surgery procedures. Also in the works are new offices in Chicago and Atlanta by 2011.
Lexington Plastic Surgeons; 120 E. 61st St., New York, NY 10065; 888-LEX-DOCS; www.lexingtonplasticsurgeons.com