Dr. Sheila Nazarian is a force of nature and a true dynamo in the male-dominated field of plastic surgery. She defies all stereotypes of what you would imagine a very skilled and well respected plastic surgeon to be like; she is glamourous, beautiful, charismatic, engaging and lots of fun. And in addition to her fast paced career, she is a dedicated mother, wife, and social media personality with her own television show! So whoever said women can’t have it all, Dr Sheila Nazarian is living proof that it can be done; and it can be done in style. eniGma’s Editor-in-Chief, Yasmine Shihata sat down with this amazing doctor to find out the secret to her success and how she juggles it all. Here are some excerpts of the fascinating interview…
Tell us about your personal journey? What made you decide to choose this career path?
I was always very much into arts, crafts and design, and I thought I would mix these with science somehow. A friend who was doing his medical residency at the University of Southern California, advised me to look into plastic surgery and I loved it. Plastic surgery is a work of art, and because of how much I enjoyed it, it felt like a hobby; and helping people was the cherry on top. When I started, all I wanted was to be in the operating room. Now, I think being just in the operating room, wouldn’t be fulfilling for me. Nowadays, I have a lot of diversity in my day; ranging from filming for a television show, creating social media content, working on a marketing campaign, doing procedures like injectables or laser, and finally, being a mom and a socialite. All this keeps me very satisfied. I think if I was doing just one thing, I would get bored.
Is being more than just a doctor what sets you apart?
I love having a platform big enough to help thousands of people at one time. It’s important to me that I have become a mentor to so many young girls out there through social media. I am not satisfied just helping one person at a time through my practice. With each surgery I’m affecting just one person. It is great, but it is not totally fulfilling for me, that’s why my social media and new TV show is so important.
Tell us about your new TV show and how you handle being a woman who has it all?
First off, the TV show is about women in the world of beauty. Especially on television, I feel that men have dictated the beauty standard and it’s about time that women created a new standard. The question we, as surgeons, face all the time is whether somebody is in need of surgery or if they can go the non-surgical route and I deal with that in my practice every day. So that’s what the show is about. As for being a woman who has it all, up until three years ago I was still that Middle Eastern girl who wanted everyone to love me and tell me how good I was. However, when you start to succeed, there is a lot of jealousy. People want you to be successful, but not more successful than they are. I’m comfortable with who I am now, and the people who are important to me know who I am, and it’s their opinions that I care about.
Would you say that your husband is a big part of your success?
Definitely. He always says to me, “your success is my success.” I think a lot of men don’t think that way. We actually have a friend who’s going through a divorce because she’s becoming more successful than her husband and he couldn’t handle it. Actually, I had a very difficult time finding a husband, and dating was not easy. I dated a guy who was a lawyer while I was still in medical school, and he told me he wouldn’t want our wedding invitations to say mister and doctor, ‘so I can’t date you.’ Another guy, a doctor in internal medicine, told me that we could continue dating only if I planned to be a dermatologist, but not a surgeon, because then I would be higher on the totem pole. So, I married a brain surgeon who was higher than me on the totem pole! I think our marriage works so well because we understand each other. When he’s busy, I’m not waiting around for him, as I have my own stuff to do. We’re together because we want to be together, there’s no co-dependence.
How did you and your husband meet?
I was studying in medical school in New York and I came to Los Angeles to do neurology. One day at lunch, a friend asked me what I was looking for in a man and I told him I wanted someone tall, educated, and who comes from a family similar to mine. He told me he had a friend who never wanted to get married but could show me a good time while I was in LA for the three weeks I had left. After the first 8 days of dating, he went home and told his sister, ‘this is the girl I’m going to marry!’ After three months we were engaged, and in ten months we were married. We were married in August 2005.
Women in the Middle East are often told that you can either be a mom or focus on your career. What is your message?
I definitely think you can have both. Another piece of advice that I give my residents, especially doctors, is to not let their social life fall behind their professional life, because they spend so much time in the hospital. No matter how tired you are, you have to put on your lipstick and go out and meet people. For Middle Eastern women, getting married is valued in our culture, and we can’t deny that. Another point to take note of is that after you turn 30 years old, you don’t have as many eggs as before and we have to think of that. In my culture at least, men who are 35, for example, tend to marry girls who are 25. You don’t want to reach a point where you’re finally a doctor at 33 and you’re alone. All the men you were training with will have married 27 years old girls by then. In order to have both, you have to succeed in both. Don’t take that fellowship if your family or relationship will suffer, and don’t push yourself to only be successful in just one aspect of your life.
You have a successful career, a television show and a beautiful family. How do you manage all that?
I’ve worked so hard for so many years, and now I’m just having the best time with it. I’m working at four simultaneous businesses and having a family all at once. For women, it’s important to get a job where you can set your own schedule or work from home so you can be flexible. You need to be able to give more attention to your work when you need to and give more time to your kids when you need to. I am able to take my kids to school because, instead of operating at 7 am like most surgeons do; I operate at 10 am so I can be there for my kids. Nobody can be you. Nobody can be the mother; not the dad, not the nanny, not the tutor, not even grandma. My kids have only one mom, while my patients can have many doctors. I also don’t go into the office everyday now. Sometimes I am either filming the TV show or working on other things. My show is now very important to me. It is a new beginning.
You can find out more information on
Dr. Nazarian’s practice on her Instagram:
and website: https://nazarianplasticsurgery.com