The Elizabeth Institute is a boutique plastic and reconstructive surgery practice founded by Dr. Margo Herron and her husband Eric. The Institute was named in tribute to Dr. Herron’s late mother, Mary Elizabeth, a caring and compassionate woman who was deeply involved in philanthropy in her community. Dr. Herron’s wish is for her practice to be representative of those same characteristics. Dr. Herron is deeply committed to helping patients feel whole again through cosmetic and reconstructive procedures. Her goal is to enhance the way patients feel about themselves and improve their quality of life. We visited with Dr. Herron to discuss to learn more about this commitment.
Hi Dr. Herron, thanks for taking the time to talk with us today. Please introduce us to your practice and the services you are offering here in Ashland.
Thank you. My husband and I set out to break the mold on your typical plastic and reconstructive surgery practice. First, we wanted to have more focus on the patients and their goals in their surgical and non-surgical treatments. We found through listening to our patients and providing education (both in written and video form), we had much happier patients and outcomes. We also found by specializing in a select number of procedures, I could focus on those procedures and truly become a leader in the industry. We are a boutique practice, which allows us to be very good at what we do, partnering with our patients to provide the ultimate individualized care.
It became clear to me during my training that my passion was breast surgery, both cosmetic and reconstructive. I offer cosmetic surgery to patients including breast augmentation, breast lifts, breast reductions, breast revisions, abdominoplasty, arm lifts, body contouring and upper eyelid surgery. My cosmetic patients range from 22-year-olds to 75-year-olds in search of a more natural look.
As a boutique practice I offer non-surgical treatments such as Sculptra, Botox, Juvederm and other dermal fillers in my office. I have chosen to not have an injector on staff but to do these injections myself. Additionally I do hundreds of skin cancer surgeries every year. All of these surgical and non-surgical treatments have remarkable outcomes for my patients.
A very special part of my practice is focused on breast cancer patients. I perform reconstructive surgery on women with breast cancer to reconstruct their breasts after a lumpectomy or mastectomy. Not only are we seeing advances in the technology we offer patients for reconstruction, but we are also seeing advances in how we care for breast cancer patients. For example, in 1998, President Clinton signed a law requiring insurance to cover breast reconstruction as part of breast cancer treatment, and in December 2015, a law was passed requiring women who receive a breast cancer diagnosis to be educated about reconstruction options available to them. The current data overwhelmingly shows us that the benefits of breast reconstruction, physically, mentally and emotionally are huge for a woman facing this challenging time in their life. This is a very exciting moment for advances in what we can do to help women facing breast cancer and I am really happy to be a part of it.
With your skill level and experience you could have really chosen to open your practice anywhere in the country. Why did you choose Ashland?
Yes, with the high demand for female plastic surgeons, I could have chosen anywhere, but I chose quality of life. Where else could I have trails, fresh organic food, rafting, and snow skiing all within a 30 minute drive. Having said this, I felt that Eric and I could choose the kind of community we wanted to live in. We are both ultra-runners and live a healthy lifestyle. Ashland is a wonderful place to raise a family, has a fantastic outdoor lifestyle, and as the only female plastic surgeon in Southern Oregon, I felt I had something unique to offer the patients here.
The Elizabeth Institute is now entering its 6th of practice. What has the experience been like for you?
It has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my life. How often does one get the chance to truly improve another’s life day in and day out? We started Elizabeth Institute from the ground up, so to say we have been busy is an understatement! I am very fortunate to work daily with three very supportive women at Elizabeth Institute, Heidi Filson, Erica Ramirez and Haley Newell. We all care very deeply for our patients. We put a lot of ourselves into the practice we built and it is very gratifying to help our patients, and the level of appreciation we receive from them makes it all worthwhile.
Confidentiality must be an important part of your business in such a small town.
Yes, confidentiality is incredibly important and we take it very seriously. I have patients all the time tell me how “exclusive” they felt coming here. Our reception area is quaint and often filled with just one patient and their family at a time. We take extra measures and have invested in the latest electronic medical records system that cuts down on paper charts and data losses. Once again, we are a small boutique practice with a small team which offers personalized care to our patients. I feel that the type of surgery I do is very personal for my patients. In many cases it is life changing for them. I wanted to build a practice that allowed me to stay nearby the patient before, during and after their surgery. We also took our time building a team who would help me to give the patients the best experience possible.
Oftentimes, patients might have fears and concerns regarding the procedure. How do you address these concerns?
This is a great question. It is completely normal and expected for patients to have fears at all stages from planning to post-surgery. We spend much of our visits with patients providing education, with the belief that well educated patients have less fear because they know what to expect. We have done several things at Elizabeth Institute to help our patients become educated in their decision. For example, we have some 3D animated videos on our website that show patients in a very tasteful manner what these surgeries involve. Everyone in the practice has worked together to develop a book – “Going to Surgery” which we give our patients (you can also download it for free from our website). I also arrange my schedule in a way that patients can get all their questions answered prior to surgery and so I am available after surgery if the patient has questions or concerns, and of course, to see them for post- operative visits while they are healing. I have a quick story that we hear at least once a month in my office. It usually involves one of my breast reduction patients 3 months post-surgery. The patient will come in and tell me how she wishes she would have done this surgery 15 or 20 years ago, but until she came into Elizabeth Institute, the fear of going to surgery was too great to make the decision. I don’t take the fear away from my patients, I give them the education to tame it.
Since you are a boutique practice, how do you handle some of those procedures that you don’t perform?
I have been very fortunate in my time here to meet some very talented people that are exceptionally great in their fields. One of those being Tasa with Glow Skin Rejuvenation and Laser. I started going to her 2 years ago for facials, and now go to her for many other treatments. Like me, she focuses on a handful of treatments and specializes in those. For laser, anti-aging and skin corrections, I recommend my patients see her. I recommend my patients make a complimentary cosmetic consultation with me and together we can come up with best options for their treatment or procedure with trusted providers.
In an industry highly dominated by male surgeons, what advantage do you see that you are able to bring to the table as a female?
Yes, there are many more male plastic surgeons than female. When I was selected for plastic surgery residency, I was 1 of only 12 women accepted into an integrated plastic surgery residency nationwide, while there were over 60 men accepted that year. Our national society has seen the huge benefit of having more women plastic surgeons and is making corrective measures to allow patient access to female surgeons. To my knowledge, I am the Rogue Valley’s first female plastic surgeon and the only one within 150 miles. I find that I have a lot of patients that especially want to see a female surgeon. I think there is a camaraderie between women, and I believe I can relate to my patients in a way that is unique and understanding in their goals.
Plastic and reconstructive surgery has now been practiced as an official field of medicine since the early 1900’s. How has the technology, tools and training evolved along with overall patient results and safety improved?
There are records from the 1st century BC of the Romans performing plastic surgery, and modern plastic surgery dates from WWI. The advances we are seeing today are vast and it continues to evolve. For example, the newest generations of breast implants, which we call “gummy bears,” are shaped more like a breast and made with form-stable, high-strength cohesive silicone. The result is a safe and natural looking implant. Because of advances in technology, it is important to me to be involved with my surgical board and attend plastic surgery meetings. Essentially, my training is ongoing and allows me to offer the best techniques and technologies to my patients.
Your patients really enjoy working with you and have reported that you “really get it.” What is some common feedback you receive from your patients?
I often hear this from patients. I listen to my patients and work hard to deliver the results that we agree on. As a woman, I get the look and feel that my patients are looking for when it comes to breast surgery. There are many surgeons that are known for “their” look, a look that most of their patients share. It is my goal to give my patients a look and feel that we both agree on. I guess that’s why they say, “she just gets it.”
Your work is truly transformative to your patients lives and the way they see themselves in the world. How does it make you feel to know you have played such an important role in someone’s life.
I am touched by the patient’s experiences every day and I am sure that will continue throughout my career. I feel very honored to share this part of their lives with them.
Your husband also plays an important behind-the-scenes role in supporting you with the Elizabeth Institute. Please say more.
Eric is a real creative force and having him involved allows me to focus on the patients and surgery. We have worked together to build a practice we are both proud of and it is exciting now to reflect back and see how far we have come. He is a big part of Elizabeth Institute and we are a great team.
You guys are very actively involved in the community with your kids and you are both passionate trail runners.
We are. We embrace a healthy lifestyle. Life is about balance. I could work 70 hours a week if I wanted, however, I recognize life’s shortcomings in long work hours. I enjoy trail running, working out, and snow skiing. Every Tuesday and Thursday morning I have a group of professional women that meet at 5:45 am to run the trails before work. Ashland lends itself to being active no matter your sport preference. I love this community.
Dr. Herron, thanks for speaking with us today.
638 North Main St suite C, Ashland OR 97520
Check out her website here