Article and Photo by Ahren von Schnell
Cosmetic surgery has gone mainstream. No longer the province of icons of stage and screen, it has now taken its place as an important component of a diversified and robust wellness portfolio. From its early beginning, it was recognized that its effect on health was more than skin-deep. The first pioneers in the field were keenly aware that despite its aesthetic nature, it could have profound implications for an individual’s emotional wellbeing, professional success, and interpersonal relationships. As early as 1926, when Dr. Suzanne Noel, a French cosmetic surgeon, published her treatise, Aesthetic Surgery: Its Social Role, the multidimensional benefits of cosmetic procedures were well-appreciated. And this avant-garde perspective continues, right here in the North Country, with Dr. Henri Gaboriau.
First driven to pursue a career in reconstructive surgery when a close family member lost an eye during a schoolyard fight, Dr. Gaboriau is acquainted with how a person’s appearance can affect more than physical health. For good or ill, a person’s quality of life, across multiple domains, is significantly influenced by their perceived physical attractiveness. These include a sense of wellbeing on multiple axes, notably romantic and interpersonal relationships, financial and professional success, and psychological and emotional wellbeing.
Dr. Gaboriau notes that much of this is thought to be the product of evolutionary processes working on the human psyche over the course of millions of years. Three qualities – youthfulness, symmetry and averageness (average in this sense should be understood to mean an absence of extremes) – are generally believed to be indicators of overall health and resilience to environmental stressors. This meant that natural selection favored our ancestors choosing a mate who possessed such characteristics, and rewarded them with differential reproductive success, i.e., healthier offspring who then had the same preferences for youthful, symmetrical and average faces.
This advantage extends beyond a person’s success in romance, however. It also tends to translate to greater wellness in their professional life. It has been supported over and over that greater facial attractiveness correlates significantly with lifetime earnings, and Dr. Gaboriau has seen the same effect with many his own clients. He recalls patients from his time as Medical Director of The Gaboriau Center for Plastic Surgery in Sammamish, WA (the second-highest earning community in the state), enjoyed increases in their salary, as well as career advancement, following cosmetic enhancement.
Originally from Paris, France, and no stranger to success himself, Dr. Gaboriau earned a degree in Oceanographic Studies before serving in the 501st Regiment of Combat Tanks. He subsequently was assigned to the prestigious Hopital des Invalides in Paris, part of the Health Services of the Armed Forces of the French Republic. He then went on to earn not one, but two M.D. degrees, completing a fellowship in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery.
After relocating to Washington State, he was more than a world-class surgeon – he was also deeply involved in his community. He founded the Face, Heart and Mind Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization to help disfigured children. He was a charter member of his local Rotary International and he served as president of the Sammamish Chamber of Commerce, which, under his leadership oversaw the number of local businesses double.
Dr. Gaboriau has a deep appreciation for the value of continuing professional development, having earned multiple special certificates that support and augment the skills he has refined over the years. Moreover, he has worked to share his experience with other professionals in his field.
While in private practice, he was frequently invited to train other cosmetic physicians in the administration of injectables such as neurotoxins and fillers, as well as how to most effectively integrate them into a successful business model. This afforded him the opportunity to mentor practitioners around the world, in countries such as Canada, Mexico, France, Australia, and the United States.
Of particular note, he has expertise in the application of nature-based medicines, particularly regarding rejuvenation. He uses lactic acid which can be derived from milk, for compounds that can be particularly efficacious in treating skin wrinkles. Indeed, lactic acid is often found in many body and face creams, although those purchased at the local grocer are generally of insufficient concentration to be very effective.
Insights like this are characteristic of Gaboriau’s approach to whole-person wellness. He describes the misconception that plastic surgeons are merely purveying costly procedures, when, in fact, his own personal approach is to emphasize the importance of lifestyle best practices across the board. This is a critical component in helping a client to meet their post-procedure goals. The guidance he provides to his patients helps to support successful outcomes following surgery, as well as assists in maintaining and enhancing one’s aesthetic aspirations. For example, he often recommends that his patients engage in vitamin C supplementation following surgery. Vitamin C has been demonstrated to improve the healing of soft tissues, as well as to boost collagen production. Healthy levels of collagen are widely acknowledged to delay or mitigate the formation of wrinkles.
Gaboriau contrasts his whole-person approach to ones which primarily or exclusive emphasize the procedure itself, through the use of an analogy: Plastic surgery, without the lifestyle behaviors to support it, would be like purchasing a new Lamborghini and never changing its oil.
In many patients, having work done tends to have an overall positive impact on things such as self-image and motivation. In fact, the change seen in patients following a procedure is one often characterized by an overall adoption of healthier lifestyle habits. Overweight individuals frequently develop the confidence and eagerness to begin exercising regularly and eating in a healthier manner; self-esteem tends to improve with a concomitant rise in psychological and emotional wellness in other areas, such as deeper more fulfilling social relationships; and financial wellbeing trends upward, reflecting the impact of cosmetic surgery on salary.
Dr. Gaboriau’s interest in advancing the wellness of the complete individual has even led him to develop innovative partnerships that promoted improved outcomes for his patients. Notably, during his time in Washington State, he would work with a patient and his or her primary care physician to set lab work goals, e.g., blood sugar levels, and would then provide the patient with a discount on cosmetic surgery if those goals were met. This practice helped to incentivize adopting and maintaining a more active lifestyle and a better diet.
Never one to stop growing, Dr. Gaboriau keeps apprised of the potential the latest discoveries have for plastic surgery. He observes that gene editing may be something on the horizon that could have myriad benefits for cosmetic procedures, “CRISPR is a big thing, and has been going on for a while now. [It could have many applications], particularly regarding skin grafts.” He added that biotechnology could be used to reduce the risk of a patient’s body rejecting a graft or, for example, a hair transplant.
As a relative newcomer to the North Country, Dr. Gaboriau is eager to bring the same vision and leadership in wellness as he did to Sammamish, Washington. His wealth of knowledge and experience, as well as affable personality and strong history of community involvement will undoubtedly make him a welcome addition to the region.
Dr. Henri Gaboriau
2233 State Route 86
Saranac Lake, NY 12983