Dr. Charles K. Lee for Business Concept Magazine
Dr. Charles K. Lee for Business Concept Magazine | Foto: Dr. Charles K. Lee for Business Concept Magazine

Dr. Charles K. Lee, The Art and Science of Plastic Surgery

Por: Magret Martinez

18, August, 2022 en Business Concept

The Art and Science of Plastic Surgery

Geraldine Zialcita

Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Charles K. Lee, integrates art and science to guide his patients in undergoing a transformation so he can find the true essence of natural beauty and turning back the clock.

Dr. Lee’s childhood dream was to become a firefighter. He would shriek in delight each time he heard the sirens and saw the red fire engines bracing through the streets. “These brave firefighters are real-life superheroes who have extinguished the fire and saved a lot of people,” he shares.

Dr. Charles K. Lee for Business Concept Magazine
Dr. Charles K. Lee for Business Concept Magazine

Dr. Lee grew up in a small town near Chicago as one of the few Asians in the community. As a Philosophy major, Dr. Lee dreamed of discovering the meaning of life and the values that resonate with him. “The values that would always take me down the right path are, truth, understanding, discipline, action, and passion. Seeking and being truthful; understanding people, the world, and different ideas; discipline and dedication to focus; taking action, because nothing happens without action; and having passion in life to make it all worth it. These values ground me into the person that I am which I use in every aspect of my life and practice,” he states.

Dr. Lee obtained both his bachelor’s and medical degree from Washington University, St. Louis. He graduated with honors through the Scholar’s Program in Medicine which allowed him to be accepted to medical school directly from high school. He completed his plastic and reconstructive surgery residency at the University of Chicago in Chicago, IL. Shortly after, Dr. Lee fulfilled a fellowship in microsurgery in San Francisco. “My father was a physician, an obstetrician, and gynecologist, and he served as a role model for me. He never pushed me to be a doctor, but when I announced in high school that I would follow his footsteps, he was extremely proud and supportive of me,” he narrates.

While Dr. Lee was in medical school, he shared a fond interest in surgery which empowered him to be his own version of a superhero that can transform lives. “I went to medical school knowing I wanted to be a surgeon but did know which kind of surgery. I stumbled upon plastic surgery during a clinical rotation and saw the amazing way plastic surgeons can reconstruct the human body from head to toe. I discovered reconstructive microsurgery on top of that where plastic surgeons can transplant tissues and reconnect arteries and nerves under the microscope to truly help patients regain form and function.” he relays.

After witnessing first-hand how surgeons operate and the outcome of the surgeries, Dr. Lee trained with some of the prominent plastic surgeons in the world. “Aside from my father being a role model, I found mentors who guided me through the maze of hoops to get into a competitive Plastic Surgery residency. I had wonderful mentors who inspired me and made me want to be the best that I could be,” he informs.

Dr. Charles K. Lee for Business Concept Magazine
Dr. Charles K. Lee for Business Concept Magazine

Dr. Lee moved from Chicago to San Francisco in 2003 and worked in a group private practice based out of California Pacific Medical Center for three years before launching his private practice. To date, Dr. Lee has been practicing plastic surgery and serving his patients at L Plastic Surgery for two decades in San Francisco. Known for his cutting-edge surgical methods integrated with compassion, Dr. Lee always goes the extra mile to produce outstanding results for his patients from across the globe. Acclaimed to be one of America’s Top Doctors by Castle Connolly, Dr. Lee is also the Chief Plastic Surgeon at St. Mary’s Medical Center and an Associate Clinical Professor of Surgery at the UCSF Division of Plastic surgery where he trains fellows and residents. Dr. Lee’s excellence and professionalism in his field have garnered numerous awards and publications.

L Plastic Surgery offers a variety of services ranging from eyelid and facelift, to breast and body procedures. Since a plastic and reconstructive surgeon’s end goal is to provide a transformation of one’s appearance, Dr. Lee defines what beauty personally means to him. “Beauty is truth and is difficult to define, but we immediately know it, when we see, hear, or sense it; beauty helps give meaning to our lives. I believe we all thirst for beauty. As a plastic surgeon, I am in a unique position to recreate or reconstruct beauty in the human face or body by restoring youth or replacing what has been lost due to ageing or illness. Beauty is form and function in perfect harmony. As an Asian American, I have a unique perspective on Asian beauty. For example, when performing Asian eyelid surgery, it’s important to remember that it is not about Westernizing the eyelid but about finding harmony, balance, and the natural beauty in each face,” he describes.

Dr. Charles K. Lee for Business Concept Magazine
Dr. Charles K. Lee for Business Concept Magazine

After almost twenty years of being in the industry and serving his patients, Dr. Lee has gained a wealth of wisdom, finesse skills, and unsurpassed experience. “I have built my practice from the ground to up using a boutique-style setting with a very private and personal approach. It takes hard work, dedication, and passion to hone your skills as you constantly strive for perfection. The work is not easy but to be both a surgeon and artist is truly rewarding. I have also learned that success cannot be achieved alone and am eternally grateful to my wife, my parents and family, for their constant support. I am also blessed to surround myself with remarkable people, including my wonderful staff who have been part of my team for 10 years,” he imparts.

Dr. Lee embraces his artistic side which enables his creativity while balancing science. “What I love most about being a plastic surgeon is the ability to recreate lost form and function through surgical artistry. This allows me to be creative because each patient has a unique need or anatomy. As a plastic surgeon trained in ‘reconstructive microsurgery’, I can utilize the finest and most precise techniques to perform complex procedures all over the human body to obtain the best aesthetic result. After all that has been done, seeing the happy smiles of my patients during the postoperative visit makes it all worth it and reaffirms why I love this specialty.” He smiles.

Dr. Lee believes inspiration comes in all forms. He grew up listening to classical music and appreciates all classical forms of teaching in music and visual art. He also enjoys reading non-fiction books and magazines. Dr. Lee loves traveling the world—especially Europe and Asia—to see beautiful architecture and cultures. He is inspired by his resident trainees from UCSF and St. Mary’s Medical Center, whom he teaches in the operating room—they keep him young and constantly challenge him.

Being in a competitive industry, Dr. Lee practices with integrity and offers stellar services while understanding the needs of each patient. His gentleness, dedication, and commitment to his patients are what drive and motivate them to remain loyal to him. “The difference between a good surgeon and an excellent one is that excellence requires the surgeon to correctly define the problem and make the definitive diagnosis so that the operative plan can be executed as perfectly as possible. I strive to treat each patient with their unique anatomy and exacting concern,” he defines.

Dr. Charles K. Lee for Business Concept Magazine
Dr. Charles K. Lee for Business Concept Magazine

In his career, Dr. Lee has witnessed numerous transformations. Acknowledging that this involves an external and internal healing process, Dr. Lee has been instrumental in assisting his patients to overcome their issues. “I have helped women for two decades by performing specialized breast reconstruction surgery after breast cancer. Their healing process is very much external, but there is inner healing that happens when they feel whole again. I help them understand that this is a journey and it takes time to heal. My staff and I reassure my patients every step of the way, while also being constantly vigilant and attentive to their needs. It is the greatest privilege of being a physician and surgeon, to be part of someone’s life and transformation. We all want to be ‘heroes’ to our patients,” he briefs.

Despite all his accolades, the journey to getting to where he is now wasn’t always smooth. Growing up in a small town where being Asian was a minority deemed harder for Dr. Lee to achieve his goals, yet his dedication to his profession surpassed all his obstacles. “I firmly believe that every challenge has made me stronger, and even more passionate about my specialty as a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon,” he conveys.

Dr. Lee keeps a work/life balance by exercising and eating healthy. “Being a surgeon takes a hard toll on your body. I like to play golf even though it may sound cliché. I enjoy the outdoors and the camaraderie of my friends and family while playing the sport. During Covid, golf was one of the few outdoor and social activities we could participate in. The best part of golf is, that it’s a never-ending challenge that can be enjoyed with friends.” He smiles.

Dr. Charles K. Lee for Business Concept Magazine
Dr. Charles K. Lee for Business Concept Magazine

He offers a tad of wisdom for those who wish to follow in his footsteps and engage in a meaningful career like him. “My best advice is to be passionate and focused on getting into medical school first. Remember that it is a long path of at least eight years of undergraduate and medical school education with anywhere from six to ten years of surgical training for a total of nearly fifteen plus years. In other words, you have to be dedicated and stay focused in this profession. I was fortunate to have role models like my father and other mentors who helped me navigate my path and shape my career. It’s important to gather good advice from great mentors in the field you wish to engage,” he concludes.

Dr. Lee is also the author of several chapters in the Clinics of Plastic Surgery textbook. Amid the pandemic, Dr. Lee built a brand new office and a private surgery center on Pine street near Nob Hill. As he forges ahead, Dr. Lee looks forward to treating new patients for aesthetic face and body surgery in a more comfortable and boutique setting.

Dr. Charles K. Lee defines his creativity and mastery by treating with compassion, healing with preservation, and transforming with grace.


CHARLES K. LEE @lplasticsurgery

Writer: GERALDINE ZIALCITA @geraldineauthor

Copy Editor: KIEDO VILLANUEVA @kie_villanueva

Art Director: NIGEL JOHN DEL MUNDO @nigeldelmundo

Photographer: VINCENT GOTTI @vinniegotti