Richard A. Weiss M.D. believes that the miracle of laser vision correction is the latest cosmetic trend.
Waves of the future always seem to begin in Southern California. Riding — indeed, directing — the crest of the wave of ophthalmic plastic and refractive surgery is Richard A. Weiss, M.D., founder of the Newport Laser Vision & Cosmetic Surgery Network in Newport Beach.
Heralded as one of the most prominent laser surgeons in California, Dr. Weiss has established a unique international presence by leading the way with new clinical techniques and cutting edge research.
The trend of increasing medical specialization has become necessary to keep up with the explosion of new technology, reports Dr. Weiss. The fields of ophthalmic plastic surgery and refractive surgery (laser vision correction) are two of the most popular and technologically advanced of the new medical sub-specialties.
With his practice just a hop, skip and a credit card from the upscale Fashion Island shopping center, Mecca of the hottest trends, Dr. Weiss applies his considerable skills in developing the latest methods of cosmetic eye surgery.
“As an oculoplastic surgeon, my emphasis is on the health of the eye and preservation of vision,” he states, explaining how his background and approach to this extremely delicate body area differ from general plastic and reconstructive surgeons.
Although he earned honors in cardiology, neurology and surgery as well as in ophthalmic research and ophthalmology at Temple University School of Medicine, eyes have always been the focus of Dr. Weiss’s interest and expertise. He served as chief resident in ophthalmology at prestigious Georgetown University Hospital, and captured one of only 20 special fellowship training positions in ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery available annually in North America, at the University of Toronto. He received his certification from the American Board of Ophthalmology in 1985.
Originally from Philadelphia, Dr. Weiss moved to Newport Beach in 1986. In addition to running a bustling practice with the help of his skilled, patient-oriented staff, he has been giving back to the local community and the world at large for years. Whether he is performing a free operation on a poverty stricken individual or elective surgery on a well-known celebrity, his focus on achieving optimum results with minimum patient discomfort is unwavering.
Oh, those worn-out eyes
Often, the first place another person’s eyes rest upon you is your own two eyes. The appearance of constant fatigue, premature aging, dark shadows, puffiness, crow’s feet and other problems that detract from your eyes can mar your entire image (and self image).
Through cosmetic oculoplastic surgery — which improves the appearance of the eyelids, eyebrows, forehead and upper face– and reconstructive oculoplastic surgery — which corrects defects caused by aging, trauma tumors and congenital abnormalities– Dr. Weiss gives patients an enhanced new look and an enhanced outlook on life.
Amazingly, the procedures and recovery times are much less involved than you might think. With local anesthesia and your choice of background music (by the way, Dr. Weiss is an accomplished musician, so you might consider requesting an original song), you’ll sail through most eyelid surgeries in a relaxed, pain-free state. Then, with Dr. Weiss’ harmonious combination of pre- and post-operative holistic medications, (including bioflavinoids, antioxidants, and vitamins), you will return to normal activities in less than two weeks, looking and feeling youthful, alert and eager to put your best face forward in every personal and business situation.
Ophthalmic surgeons have been at the forefront of many innovations
A man with an eye for innovation, Dr. Weiss has pioneered a way to shorten the recovery process for facial laser procedures.
“The original C02 laser when used alone left the skin red for months,” he explains. “I discovered that using two advanced lasers together, a state-of-the-art Erbium laser to take away the layer of inflammation created by the C02 laser, greatly hastens the healing process, shortening it from months to weeks.”
Dr. Weiss’ arsenal of cosmetic eye procedures includes Botox injections. Botox is administered today by several categories of physicians, but its use was actually introduced by ophthalmic plastic surgeons a dozen years ago to address medical problems such as blepharospasm, hemi facial spasms and facial tics.
Dr. Weiss believes, “Procedures such as endoscopic brow lifts can be exceedingly delicate and are best on trusted to oculoplastic surgeons, who are uniquely and completely trained in this area of the body.” In addition to ameliorating drooping eyelids, and removing puffy bags and dark shadows below the eyes with no skin incision, Dr. Weiss utilizes laser skin resurfacing that smoothes fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes (crow’s feet) and mouth, softens deep laugh and frown creases, and even minimizes acne and certain surgical scars. He also treats excessive tearing, bulging eyes (due to thyroid eye disease) and performs reconstructive and revision eyelid surgery. And of course, a complete eye exam is offered to each patient as well.
Laser vision correction is a cosmetic procedure, too
Although it is not at first glance considered to be a beautifying procedure, laser vision correction is definitely an appearance enhancer. Just ask anyone who would otherwise be wearing thick, unattractive glasses. Just a few short decades ago, people in Generation “G” (as in glasses) had no alternative. Now, declares Dr. Weiss, “Laser vision correction for any and all refractive errors is becoming so mainstream, it’s more common than getting braces.” It also costs about the same as other cosmetic surgery procedures, he adds. And best of all, the laser is speedy, as in now you see it, now you don’t fast: less than 60 seconds and you’re done!
The success rate is exceptional, too. Dr. Weiss notes that in FDA trials, 96 percent of laser corrected patients were able to drive legally without glasses and about half were able to see 20/20!
In fact, some of these trials were conducted using a device co-developed by Dr. Weiss: a rotary brush that eliminates the need for blade contact with the eye surface, making it much safer and more patient friendly. However, the field is advancing so quickly that even though the device has been mandated by the FDA for use in laser surgery to correct farsightedness with the VISX laser, Dr. Weiss’ currently preferred refractive method is even more advanced: Down-Up LASIK. With this newer technique, the recovery time is so rapid that patients can commonly drive to work the very next day with 20/20 vision!
The acclaimed rotary epithelial brush is not Dr. Weiss’ first invention and it undoubtedly will not be his last. Another recently patented invention is his device that for the first time, allows a critical pre-operative measurement to be taken that will lead to more accurate results with all refractive methods.
Interest among eye surgeons is so intense that there is already a waiting list of the world’s most respected laser surgeons eager to use the device, and Dr. Weiss has been invited to make two presentations at the next international refractive surgery meeting this spring in Seattle.
A worldwide vision
The device not only increases the accuracy and predictability of surgical results, it is helping to cure world blindness, relates Dr. Weiss. He has arranged that a portion of the proceeds is to be donated to the One World Sight Project (OWSP), an organization quite close to his heart. .[Editor’s note: see page 34 to learn more about this important global effort] A musician, Dr. Weiss was inspired to create the nonprofit OWSP by a song he wrote about the plight of the blind in 1988; he has been a one-man band in terms of promoting it over the past decade.
After enlisting the wholehearted commitment of a very famous patient, South African President Nelson Mandela, Dr. Weiss assiduously sought and won the support of blind pop musician and fellow humanitarian, Stevie Wonder. Although blind since birth, Wonder was awed to receive a special book of embossed reproductions of Picasso artworks from OWSP. “I wasn’t sure he would be able to visualize the images, but when he put his hands on the book and turned the pages, he started smiling,” recalls Dr. Weiss, himself smiling at the recollection. In addition to promoting the OWSP and performing free eye surgeries for the poor around the world, Dr. Weiss contributes on a local level. He donates eye care services to Share Our Selves, an Orange County agency providing food, medical care and other services to the needy.
Seeing is believing, editor realizes as she beholds the man behind the doctor
On both a professional and personal level, this interviewer found Richard Weiss to be the kind of man to whom people are instinctively drawn and upon whom they rely. Wise beyond his years yet charmingly boyish in his demeanor, he possesses a charisma that made me instantly feel at ease, in spite of his awesome achievements.
As our initial interview drew to a close, I pondered the paradox. Dr. Weiss’ credentials are impressive; his altruism is self-evident; his medical stance is cutting-edge; and his list of publications, seminars, honors and accomplishments is immense. Yet I found this man who is on a first-name basis with celebrities to be delightfully easygoing, engaging and, considering his many fields of endeavor, delightfully laid-back. Perhaps it is due to his avocation as a songwriter and pianist, I speculated, taking a good long look around his office. Aha, I realized, encountering the ubiquitous photos of his adorable three-year-old son. No wonder the man has such a vision for the future!