Heart to Heart With One of NYC’s Leading Plastic Surgeons, Dr. Aviva Preminger

 

Dr. B. Aviva Preminger, one of New York City’s top plastic surgeons, grew up with medicine in her blood. So it was no surprise when she decided to follow in the footsteps of both her grandfather and father. “My dad is a physician

and used to love to operate, and I think that was a big inspiration for me,” she says.

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As a kid, Dr. Preminger dreamed of becoming a surgeon—and a fashion designer. As an artistic child who always had an eye for aesthetics, it’s only fitting she chose to work in a field that allows her to create and bring to life the vision people have for themselves.

Admired and respected by both her patients and her peers, Dr. Preminger is much more than just a medical professional. She cares about her patients—she’s not afraid to give them hugs—and provides a level of comfort and understanding during and even after they’re in her care.

“I was the kid in summer camp who would run the little infirmary,” she recalls. “I always liked taking care of people.”

As a working mother of three young children, life can get hectic, Dr. Preminger explains, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. I sat down with the charismatic doctor to talk about her work, her family, and why both of these roles are all she’s ever wanted to do.

You opened Preminger Plastic Surgery more than a decade ago. Was having your own practice always in the cards?
It was always my dream to have my own boutique practice that delivers a certain standard of care; it’s been so special for me to be able to execute that.

Running a business is not without its challenges. What’s the best advice you would share with someone looking to follow a similar path?
There are many challenges. I am a doctor, I take care of patients, and in medical school that’s what they teach you. I had so much to learn about how to run an actual practice on my own and figure out the things I wasn’t taught.

Whatever business you choose to run, there is no way you can know everything about how to do that. I know how to practice medicine—that I do well—but there are many moving pieces to running a practice, so the best advice I can share is to surround yourself with smart people who can give you good advice and to whom you can turn when you have questions.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Not only being able to meet my patients’ expectations, but also exceed their expectations. If I can give someone more than what they envisioned, that look on their face—they’re so happy—it makes me feel great that I’ve been blessed with the ability and the opportunity to do that.

Some of that love also comes from watching my father love what he does; I believe that rubbed off on me. There’s something about being in surgery and able to shape, mold, and create something with your hands. To have a certain vision and then be able to execute and deliver on that is an amazing feeling.

How do you balance a successful practice and motherhood?

I usually say it’s a juggling act with one ball always about to hit the floor. It’s a challenge—I would be lying if I said it was easy. It takes constant balancing and re-balancing on a daily basis to try and be there for my kids and to make sure I am running my practice appropriately. Even on the days the juggling act is hard, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What lessons do you hope your children learn from you?

There are things I hope they take away and things I already see they have taken away, and that for me is really special. I am very proud of them—they are caring, good kids— and some of that comes from seeing what I do and being there for other people.

As I’ve run my own practice, they’ve seen the evolution of it. It’s important for them to be there and see all of that because it shows them they should follow their dreams—especially for my daughters. It sets a good example in terms of

what women can achieve—they shouldn’t think that they should do anything less.

How do you focus on your own self-care?

A lot of it is maintenance—eating right, working out. I swim five times a week; that’s my peace. It also gives me mental rest, which is very important.

How would you describe your go-to style?

Simple, classy, elegant—I like to be professional in the way I present myself but I also like to be feminine. I have an artistic eye about things. I like wearing brighter colors, and looking your best is all about accentuating your best features. I love to accessorize. I love jewelry and high heels—there’s nothing better than a great pair of shoes. Even when I’m in the operating room, I’m wearing some kind of fun earrings or necklace, and my operating room shoes are a little sparkly.

What are some of the ways in which you give back?

I’m very involved with Sharsheret, an organization that helps women and their families face breast cancer. This year, I was honored with their volunteer award, which meant a tremendous amount to me.

I went to Harvard for undergrad, and I continue to be involved in helping volunteer as an alumnus to interview kids for admission. It’s a great way for me to give back and help give other students the opportunity I was given.

In a career that focuses on feeling beautiful, how do you define beauty?

For me, it’s all about making you feel great about the way you look. It’s about confidence.

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