Caroline Szpalski, MD

Female Plastic Surgeon in New Jersey

Meet Dr. Caroline Szpalski, Your Montclair, NJ Plastic Surgery Expert

In a world full of plastic surgeons, fellowship-trained female plastic surgeon Dr. Caroline Szpalski stands out for her impeccable surgical skills and her personal dedication to the art of transformation. From a young age, Dr. Szpalski wanted to help her father—a surgeon—at work, and she knew then she was destined for the operating room.

To Dr. Szpalski, a plastic surgeon’s role extends farther than a scalpel’s precision. Rather, it’s about showing genuine compassion, listening to hear, and designing every procedure for the individual. Throughout her life experiences, Dr. Szpalski has adopted a philosophy that emphasizes enhancing and restoring one’s unique identity rather than observing generic beauty standards.

Learn more about Dr. Szpalski by reading below, and then contact us to schedule a consultation.

Dr. Szpalski’s Distinct Perception of Beauty

Fellowship-trained female plastic surgeon Dr. Caroline Szpalski understands culture, beauty, and identity from many angles. With a diverse range of experiences spanning from Africa to Europe, Dr. Szpalski brings a unique multicultural depth, international flair, and a sophisticated European sense of style to her practice, especially as an ethnic plastic surgeon. Through this unique perspective and a distinct Ethnic identity, Dr. Szpalski recognizes that, across multiple continents, there are many recognized standards of beauty because no two faces are alike.

As a busy surgeon, wife, mother, and New Yorker, Dr. Szpalski understands many of her patients’ diverse challenges. With a less is more approach, Dr. Szpalski tailors her approach for each patient to harmoniously merge understatement with transformation, providing natural-looking, long-lasting results that create a sense of timeless elegance.

It’s with great honesty and compassion that Dr. Szpalski approaches each patient, endeavoring to identify each patient’s goals and expectations to ensure she is the right surgeon providing the right procedure for the patient. By empowering her patients with her vast knowledge, Dr. Szpalski aims to help them accomplish their aesthetic goals with beautiful, natural-looking results that suit their unique identity rather than generic standards of beauty. Dr. Szpalski offers a wide range of procedures including breast reductionbreast lifttummy tuckmommy makeoverliposuctionblepharoplasty, and facelift.

Education

With a constant desire to increase her knowledge, Dr. Szpalski conducted groundbreaking skin-healing research at the esteemed NYU Langone’s Hansjörg Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery Laboratory under the supervision of Dr. Joseph G. McCarthy. This led to her to obtain her PhD in 2013. This was complemented by rigorous training at the esteemed Universite Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) Plastic Surgery Residency, the origin of the innovative vertical breast lift. Dr. Szpalski further refined her skills at the globally renowned University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, diving deep into the nuances of microsurgery alongside the world’s leading plastic surgeons. Her expansive international training equips her with a distinct advantage: the recognition that every patient is unique and deserves individualized treatment.

Awards and Honors

Dr. Szpalski has received many awards over the years, both during medical school and residency. During her last year of medical school, she was awarded the sought-after Honorary Research Fellowship. This fellowship is only available to the 6 best students of the graduating class. She spent 6 months in the prestigious (IRIBHM) laboratory of Pr Cedric Blancpain, who is believed to be a future Nobel prize winner for his research on stem cells.  She belonged to the team that discovered the origin of Merkel Cells, which until then was a mystery since their discovery over 140 years ago.

She received multiple awards for her wound healing research, including a Young Investigator Award from the Wound Healing Society in 2010, the Best Short Paper Award from the European Plastic Surgery Research Council in 2010, Best Presentation Paper by the PhD Day-Université Libre de Bruxelles in 2013 and a Research Award by the Fonds Iris Recherche-Fondation Roi Baudouin in 2016. Her research in wound healing has been awarded multiple grants, including the Research Fellowship Grant from the renowned Belgian American Exchange Foundation (B.A.E.F) in 2010, the Plastic Surgery Educational Foundation Pilot Research Grant, and a research grant from the American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons /Maxillofacial Surgeons Foundation (ASMS-MSF) in 2010, a Specialization Grant from the Bourse de Spécialisation en Communication et Vulgarisation Scientifiques – Prix Wernaers in 2013 to study breast cancer reconstruction’s patient education and finally the Excellence Grant from the WBI-Wallonie Bruxelles International.

A Female Plastic Surgeon for Women

As a woman of color, Dr. Szpalski understands her patients’ unique needs and challenges in maintaining their feminine and cultural identities. As a female plastic surgeon in a highly specialized field, she offers an empathetic and nuanced perspective her patients deeply value. With natural-looking, long-lasting results in mind, Dr. Szpalski approaches her patients’ needs with personalized care, elegance, and refined attention to detail.

Dr. Szpalski ardently embraces a tailored methodology, rejecting a standardized approach, aligning each procedure to a patient’s unique aspirations and physique. Dr. Szpalski began developing her own elegant, timeless sense of beauty and balance from a very young age. Influenced by her mother’s incredible sense of style and the French culture of Belgium, Dr. Szpalski developed her less is more approach to makeup and clothing, focusing instead on a healthy, radiant appearance and elegant, classic styling.

As a former model, Dr. Szpalski’s perceptions of beauty have been sculpted by an intimate glimpse into the fashion world, offering invaluable insights to her patients. The opportunity not only allowed her to travel the world and experience beauty and culture from her unique perspective, but it also deepened her understanding of aesthetics, elegance, and style—imperative knowledge for a good aesthetic surgeon. 

Schedule Your Consultation with Dr. Szpalski Today!

While Dr. Szpalski may be located in northern New Jersey, she brings a unique European ambiance and multicultural sophistication to her practice. As one of the only female plastic surgeons of color in the area, Dr. Szpalski offers a unique sense of style and respect for different cultural standards of beauty to the patients she serves. 

To discover how Dr. Szpalski can help you achieve your aesthetic goals, contact us today at (646) 777-0170 or completing our online form to schedule your consultation today! We are located in Glen Ridge, NJ and proudly serve patients in the Montclair, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Clifton, The Oranges, Paramus, and Franklin’s Lakes areas.

An Interview With Dr. Szpalski

I come from Brussels, Belgium, where I was born and raised in a culturally rich family with roots in Africa and Poland. My parents, a nurse and a spine surgeon, met at the hospital, laying the groundwork for my future in medicine. My sister pursued law, adding to our family’s diverse professional landscape.

The philosophy guiding my practice is “less is more,” aiming for natural, enduring results over artificial appearances. My European upbringing shaped my sense of style and is characterized by minimalism and subtlety which permeates in my daily life and my work as a plastic surgeon.

Becoming a plastic surgeon has been a transformative journey, allowing me to fulfill my passion for helping others and making a tangible difference in their lives. Patients choose me for my genuine care, personalized approach, and the unique perspective I bring to each procedure, ensuring tailored and exceptional surgical outcomes. They appreciate my honesty and dedication to their well-being rather than offering unrealistic expectations and a myriad of procedures. I am always very clear about what can be achieved and set realistic goals for my patients which they are grateful for.

My decision to become a plastic surgeon was solidified during a complex breast reconstruction surgery early in my medical school training, where the blend of art and medicine in plastic surgery captivated me. The most rewarding aspect of my profession is the profound impact on patients’ lives, offering both aesthetic and functional improvements. 

I live with my husband and children in New York City’s Upper West Side. We are very fortunate to have a beautiful and fulfilling life. Outside of the operating room, my life is rich with family activities, yoga, and reading. As a former model, I, of course, love fashion and NYC never disappoints when it comes to shopping.

Living in New York City offers us the incredible opportunity to immerse ourselves in a vibrant cultural and culinary landscape. We thoroughly enjoy exploring everything the city offers, from its world-renowned museums to its diverse restaurant scene. One of the highlights of living in NYC is the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life, each with their own unique stories and backgrounds. The city is a melting pot of cultures, ideas, and experiences, making every encounter a chance to learn something new and gain different perspectives. Whether it’s through professional connections, social events, or casual conversations in our favorite coffee shop, we’ve had the privilege of engaging with individuals from around the globe. These interactions enrich our lives, broaden our understanding, and remind us of the diverse tapestry that makes up the human experience. It’s truly one of the things we cherish most about being part of this vibrant city.

My husband, a neurosurgeon, and I navigate our demanding schedules with a sense of partnership. We met in medical school, and our relationship has been a cornerstone of strength and mutual support ever since. Given the nature of our careers, this journey has not been without its challenges, but we are immensely grateful for the life we share. We are fortunate to lead such rewarding lives, both personally and professionally, and I cherish the stability and understanding we have cultivated in our home.

I describe myself as compassionate, meticulous, and tasteful—a reflection of both my personal and professional ethos.

My medical education was marked by rigorous training in a highly competitive plastic surgery residency program in Brussels, known for pioneering the vertical breast lift technique. This program selects only one resident every other year from nationwide applicants, a testament to its exclusivity and my dedication. I further specialized in Reconstructive Microsurgery at the esteemed U.T. MD Anderson Cancer Center, a leading institution for cancer care and plastic surgery in the USA. This fellowship, one of the first of its kind in the U.S., allowed me to refine my skills in microvascular procedures, a hallmark of MD Anderson’s high-volume, high-quality care. Prior graduates comprise a veritable who’s who list of leaders in the specialty of plastic surgery, including multiple department chairpersons and faculty at many of the top institutions in the U.S., such as Harvard, Stanford, and Johns Hopkins, as well as the majority of the faculty at MD Anderson. Most of the fellows are selected from the top residency programs in the United States, and only a few international graduates have made the cut over the years, including myself.

My surgical expertise centers on breast and body procedures, with a particular affinity for mommy makeovers, tummy tucks, breast augmentation, and breast reconstruction. Despite my focus on these areas, my comprehensive training enables me to perform a wide range of reconstructive and plastic surgeries, from eyelid surgeries to skin cancer reconstruction or liposuction.

I always knew I wanted to become a surgeon. On the very first day of my plastic surgery rotation, I took part in a complex 10-hour breast reconstruction case, and I was hooked. I never looked back! I love that I can help restore form and function. It is incredibly satisfying to be able to change someone’s life with your hands. It’s the only specialty that truly combines art and medicine. I also love how we are trained to operate on every single part of the body and are not restricted to one area or one part of the population, from children to men and women.

My approach to success is rooted in hard work, dedication, and a compassionate connection with my patients, ensuring their best possible care. It emphasizes the importance of patient-centered care. By prioritizing active listening and aligning my goals with my patients, I not only enhance the quality of care but also build trust and rapport. This patient-focused methodology is integral to achieving successful outcomes and underscores my commitment as a surgeon to not just meet but exceed patient expectations through personalized treatment plans. It’s a testament to my dedication to ensuring that every surgical journey is as unique as the individual receiving care, fostering a collaborative and supportive environment that is key to both the emotional and physical aspects of recovery.

Facing setbacks and obstacles was a significant part of my journey towards becoming a surgeon. During my early modeling career, I frequently encountered skepticism about my aspirations in medicine, often judged solely on my appearance. The prevailing stereotype that beauty and intelligence could not coexist was a barrier I faced repeatedly. Yet, I remained undeterred, focusing on my studies even amidst modeling commitments, proving that my academic prowess and my aspirations were not defined by my looks.

Pursuing medicine over modeling surprised many but was a testament to my dedication to my true passion. In medical school, the challenge shifted towards gender stereotypes, with doubts cast on my ability to balance a demanding surgical career with family life. These voices only fueled my resolve to succeed, guided by my mother’s wisdom to work hard, maintain integrity, and stay focused on my goals.
This philosophy has not only steered my professional path but has also become a core principle I impart to my residents and now my children. My journey underscores the importance of resilience, self-belief, and the pursuit of one’s passions against all odds.

My career has been significantly shaped by mentors who believed in me, including prominent figures in plastic surgery and research, who have provided unwavering support and guidance.

  •  Professor A. DeMey, my late program director and chair, was instrumental in my journey to becoming a plastic surgeon. His unwavering support and the opportunity he gave me were foundational to my growth in this field.
  • Professor Philippe Blondeel, a renowned figure in the realm of breast reconstruction within plastic surgery and also hailing from Belgium, offered me invaluable support. His encouragement, sometimes just a few words at the right moment, meant the world to me.
  • Dr. Stephen M. Warren, with whom I worked in the NYU Plastic Surgery Research Lab for two years, was a mentor who deeply influenced my approach to scientific writing, grant applications, and research in plastic surgery. His guidance continued to be a cornerstone of my development throughout my training.
  • My time at U.T. MD Anderson introduced me to extraordinary surgeons like Drs. Patrick Garvey, Matt Hanasono, and Ed Chang. Their welcoming support and incredible teaching made me feel like a part of the MD Anderson family, a relationship that has been both nurturing and enduring.

These experiences with my mentors have been transformative, shaping not just my professional trajectory but my personal growth as well.

Pursuing a career in plastic surgery has been immensely rewarding, allowing me to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others. It’s a career that has not only challenged me but also brought a profound sense of fulfillment, reminding me daily of the privilege it is to serve others in their moments of need.

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