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Dr. Rick Silverman Interview

Article care of www.star-interviews.com

DON: Hi Rick. You're everywhere! How come and where all, if you know.
RICK: I have no idea how many sites I'm linked to or "quoted" on.  I used to know, because the number was limited.  I used to write a lot more to the "weights list", and as a result, things I wrote got tacked onto various sites, like the information you came across. My sense is that people found my posts fun and interesting, since I was a beginner, fascinated with the process of preparing for a contest and going through the various stages of competition. Additionally, since I'm a reasonably bright guy and a pretty good writer, I think my posts were enjoyable for readers--as well as informative for all levels.  That's the same response I've gotten to the book, "Muscle over Myth", that I wrote for Sport Pharma.

DON: That's right, you did some work with them. Are you officially endorsing them and/or you these days? What supplements besides theirs are you using? If you do not want to post names, please just tell us what the products are.
RICK: My connection with Sport Pharma started at the 1996 NPC Nationals. I went to see Jay Cutler compete, along with two other friends from the Worcester area. I had been using Sport Pharma products for 2 years, and while there, I got to know the director of national sales.  I asked him if they were interested in having someone like me endorse their product, and they were.  I had no idea of the extent to which my involvement with them would go.  But it's been great for me, and great fun.  I get great exposure from them, which comes back to my practice.  As I've said, I have next to no funding for advertising, so in order to get my name out to the appropriate crowd, I have to be creative.  So far, so good.

DON: You recently returned from South America?
RICK: Regarding my work in South America, I actually just returned from Ecuador Sunday night.  I'm going to paste the text to my "thank you letter" here, which will explain what we do there-- It's late, and I don't feel like typing this all in, so what the heck...

DON: Understood brother.
RICK: "We have just returned from what has been the most productive of trips so far in the history of our groups travel.  Our team of fourteen doctors, nurses, therapists and students evaluated nearly one hundred patients, suffering from a variety of problems, including congenital cranio facial defects, especially cleft lip and palate, as well as patients with burns and their sequelae. Other concerns, mostly related to trauma and scarring, were also treated. We performed forty-five operations over a five day operating room schedule. The highlight in our week was repairing the cleft lip of a nineteen day old infant, made possible primarily thanks to our top rate anesthetic team and the watchful post-operative care of our staff pediatrician, a new addition to our team.  Of course, when simply delivering anesthesia at nearly ten-thousand feet above sea level wasn't enough, we found other challenges for the team, such as providing anesthetic to children with severe restriction of their jaw opening due to burn scar contractures of the neck.   The management of such problems in a setting with limited technology requires great ingenuity on the part of all of the team members. We saw many of our patients from previous visits, including Luis, who took his first steps in our post-operative clinic three years ago following release of burn scar contractures behind his knees.  He and his mother met us one morning at the hospital gate, and minutes later, he was racing Kathy, one of our nurses, down the hall of the hospital.  Several of our cleft lip and palate patients returned for follow-up speech therapy.  Most of the patients seem to be making good progress despite limited resources, and it is wonderful to see them growing and developing with each passing year. Another very special part of this visit followed from our difficulty last year in performing several operations which required the use of a +dermatome+, a machine used to harvest skin grafts for burn reconstruction.  Over the course of this past year, we raised funds to purchase an electric dermatome, which we presented to the community of Latacunga during our stay, and which we used for several of our procedures.  With the current financial crisis in Ecuador, a gift of this nature is invaluable, and the gift was received with deep gratitude. Our next trip is planned for the beginning of February 2000."

DON: Forgive me, but why so many burn victims? I saw a special once about physicians going down there performing these same procedures you describe. Why are there so many birth defects there or am I receiving the wrong message via media?
RICK: We work in the mountains, where heat and cooking are often done on open stoves and with kerosene heaters.  Explosions and spills are not uncommon, I guess.  As for birth defects, there are a number of explanations.  One is genetic, in that indigenous americans have a higher incidence than those of european descent (or african descent). The "Indians" of South America fall into this group.  Other factors are socio-economic. Additionally, the cost of having the problems treated can be astronomical in these impoverished societies, even though local surgeons are willing to provide the care for free.  The supplies for surgery are very costly.  We provide expertise, but more importantly, we take our own supplies. Anyway, that's one of the things that keeps me going in medicine... Health care in the 90's US style isn't much fun anymore.

DON: No kidding. Hey, what foods do you crave?
RICK: Finally... foods that I can't resist.  Well, today it was a chocolate chip biscotti.  But in all honesty, at contest time, the toughest thing to give up for me is Pasta.  I do it, but I'm not happy about it.  I am remarkably well-disciplined.  But after 8 years of higher education and 8 years of surgical training, you might have figured that out already.

DON: I myself was once pursuing a career as an orthopeadic surgeon and turned towards physical therapy. Not due to desire, but because I was disenchanted at the opportunity being made to me at the time. Nutrition was always my passion. But helping folks who need it is the focus. I am happy to hear about people like yourself. I felt limited where I was. Long story but I made the right decision.
RICK: Now, can I ask a question??

DON: Certainly.
RICK: Okay, what do you think of when someone says "Plastic Surgeon"?

DON: I actually think of little children with cleft lips. People with real constructive need. I used to think face lift or nose job, not medical care. Then I turned 21 and found myself in Los Angeles discovering BOOB JOBS supported many doctors there. What made you get into plastic surgery? Was is the fame and fortune portrayed in "Breast Men"? What is your most commonly performed surgery? If it is breast augmentation, the second most necessary then. What procedure do you really not enjoy and what are you 'best' at?
RICK: I do more breast reductions than augments... or at least I used to do more reductions. My augment population has been "busting out" since this bodybuilding thing.  Prior to 3 years ago, I didn't do any.  But realistically, after lumps and bumps (skin lesions, skin cancers, etc.) I do a lot of liposuction.  My practice is very general, though.  A little of everything.  I like liposuction and gynecomastia surgery, and I guess I'm good at them.  I think, though, that I'm not really bad at any type of surgery, because I'm a good technician, and I enjoy the technical aspects of the operation.  I'm actually a very good microsurgeon, I guess, though I don't do that much anymore.  The residents like doing these cases with me, because I don't screw around too much.  I just get the job done.  That's what I learned in my fellowship in Taiwan and Australia. Don, do you think you'd rather have a doctor who you can call by his/her first name, or would you prefer the distance of "Dr. Suchandsuch"?

DON: I have known so many physicians that I stray between the two. I definitely always address them as Doctor in front of staff and patients. Doc as slang outside of work and by their first name in public. I tend to respect their wishes. I feel it is important to have a good patient to physician relationship but that isn't instilled via first name recognition. You are the boss. It is instilled by nurturing and caring. A patient knows within moments if you are a caring doctor, but they shouldn't ever feel trapped and at your mercy. Maybe in some instances you may be like an auto dealer trying to make the sale but not if you're of ethic. Patients can tell, or maybe they are stuck not knowing, but they have feelings and only want to know you care. But either way, you're still the doctor and should be recognized as such. That one caught me off guard. I will leave it as it is. Laughs.
RICK: Have you ever dated a girl with breast implants?

DON: Yes, I dated a girl for 5 years who had them. I am SURE there were a few I also dated that I didn't know had implants. Most, I didn't want to take it far enough to know for sure. These days though, I think its an epidemic (laughs) or maybe the crowd I am keeping. Everyone in this industry either has them or wants them. I have seen both good and bad results too. From positioning to harnessing to scarring to sensory impairment to ROM limitation. Why do you ask?
RICK: Just curious.  I hadn't really dated a woman with implants until recently.  I was surprised at how absolutely natural they seemed.  But she had a great job.

DON: It seems your schedule isn't, say 'hectic' but full. What is your workout schedule like and how do you fit it in?
RICK: My schedule is hectic and full.  I work in my training by generally going at night.  My gym is open 24 hours a day.  Not that I go often past 10 pm, but I can if I need to.  And I can go at 5 am if I need to, though I hate training in the morning.  I don't mind doing cardio in the morning if I can drag my ass out of bed.  As for how I fit it in, I don't have much of a social life. I just feel a need to train, like I feel a need to eat, sleep and do all the other vital functions of life.  If you take that approach, training is not a chore... it's just another bodily function.

DON: Do you have any experience with the food separation theories I promote?
RICK: The woman who helps me with my diet likes me to eat simple foods and keep them separate.  I like to eat good food, and I manage this even when dieting for a contest, until the very end at this point. Of course, the leanest I ever was was for my first contests, and I don't even want to tell you about how I ate back then.  Sort of blows her theories (and maybe yours), except that I started much leaner as well.  I've added a little subcutaneous flab that I never had since then.  I am often unable to strictly control my diet, since I don't have time to consistently prepare my food.  As a result, I often eat in the cafeteria at work, and the choices are limited.  I try to avoid this during contest prep.

DON: If there was one thing about the fitness industry you could change, what would it be?
RICK: The focus on drugs.  I realize that this may seem trivial to many, but in my experience, too many young people are sucked in by the desire to be huge as quickly as possible... or ripped beyond belief.  They're willing to do just about anything to accomplish that.  So they do some shit, train hard for a while, compete and lose, and then quit training, quit watching what they eat, and become fat slobs with a bitter perspective on fitness (or they turn to harder pharmaceuticals literally destroying themselves).  It's not necessary.  Sure, achieving results can be slow-- I know better than most. But the work has to be part of the achievement.  The means and the end are important, not just the end.  I try to tell that to young people when I go out to speak to school kids, but I'm sure that some of them can only focus on the potential for chicks and college scholarships. I was a geek when I was their age.  I didn't have any hope for chicks or athletic scholarships, so I settled for working hard and putting up with delayed gratification.  I'm still waiting.... I'd also like to see greater responsibility in advertising... greater accountability, and less hype, more honesty.  I'd love to see commitment of the industries giants to the athletes themselves.  That doesn't happen. Maybe make a group health insurance policy available to young athletes who otherwise can't afford policies independently.  I've got lots of ideas.

DON: I don't have to post this if you aren't interested in seeming political.
RICK: I am very political in this regard.  I support the fitness industry, and I enjoy working with the athletes.  I am not qualified to help them with their drug use there are people far more knowledgeable than I am.  I think, though, that it's important for us to make a statement toward to promote the health (physical and mental) and well being of the athletes and the community at large.  I have ideas for a straight-forward campaign to promote drug free sports focusing on kids in elementary and middle school.  After that, it's often too late. This is something I care about.  I'm working on some ideas with John Gleneicki from Musclehedz, and I wrote to Arnold Schwarzenegger last year to try and enlist his services in the form of a brief video that I could include when I speak to kids, but I wasn't successful there.  I'll try again maybe when he knows who I am: :-)

DON: How did you connect with Sports Pharma again? What's it been like for you?
RICK: As I mentioned, I met Steve Harden at the 96 NPC Nationals in Dallas.  I was put into the athlete sponsorship program, and didn't really do anything for a long time.  Then I went to the corporate offices to visit when I was at a meeting in San Francisco.  When I met the PR director, a guy named Jeff Kob, things really started to scream, and the next thing I knew, I was being photographed by Mike Neveux.  Shortly after that came the Nutriforce ad, followed by "Muscle over Myth".  I think they expected to use me and my name, but they were surprised when I actually wrote a large portion of the book. It was fun, and Laura Dayton and Kim Goss did the hard parts... the editing!! I read that thing 20 times, I think, before we were done.  I just didn't want to say anything stupid or anything I'd regret some day.  I think the book came out pretty well, and it seems to be providing lots of inspiration to other people like myself.... guys with real lives and real jobs and families and the like.  I've had a few really cool experiences as a result of the book and the ad.  I held the door open for a guy at the Olympia last fall, and after he and his wife walked through, he turned to thank me, and said, "Hey, I know you... I read your book!"  That was cool.  Also at the Olympia, I signed a book for Gregory Hines.  That was really cool.  He's a big bodybuilding fan.  I'd had dinner with him the year before, because I went out with Laura Creavalle and Chris Aceto after the Ms Olympia in NYC, but he didn't really remember me.  He was talking to Laura-- I was actually sitting across from his wife the whole evening.  Of course, he probably meets a million people.  This year, at the Arnold, my younger brother and his wife came to the Sport Pharma booth, and I was their with Don Long and Christian Boeving, both of whom are well known.  While my brother was there, someone came into the booth, walked right past the other two guys and came up to me-- "Hey Doc, I read your book.  It was great... can I get my picture taken with you??".  That happened maybe 5 times all weekend, but it was great to have it happen with my brother there.  He was impressed... figured it must have happened a lot.  Anyway, humility is easy when you're not really anybody!!  Of course, it's fun to pretend.

DON: What supplements do you stack currently?
RICK: I'm still using my old stand-bys:  Creatine and glutamine.  I use flaxseed oil, 1 to 2 tablespoons a  day.  I live on protein powders, predominantly Actisyn, Just Whey and Nutriforce from  Sport Pharma.  I've given Ribose a try, but I don't really have anything definitive to say about it at  the moment.  I also just gave a new Sport Pharma product a try: Cyclone.  It's a sublingual  19-Nor/4-Andro product.  I have to admit that in the 4 weeks that I used it, my strength went up to  where I was two years ago at my strongest.  Of course, my weight is also back to where I was two years ago, almost, so being a little fatter helps.  Previously, I was unimpressed when I tried the  various "pro-hormone" supplements.  On the plus side, of course, I've noticed no side effects (no  gyno, which has been a problem with Androstendione; no acne or other things like that), and I'm a  little leaner at 225 this time than I was two years ago, as should be the case if I'd been making the  sort of progress I feel I've made in that time.

DON: 225? I was down to a little below 200 for my acting but rest around 225 these days. I feel like a twig. What is it you are trying to do different from everyone else in your field?
RICK: It's not that I'm trying to do anything different from everyone else in my field... in fact, I'm trying to  do the same provide honest, high quality care.  At least, that's what I hope and believe we are all  committed to.  At the same time, what I have to offer, which is different, is experience in dealing  with bodybuilders and other athletes in a way that is more attentive to their individual needs-- needs  which I understand, because I have the same needs as an athlete.

DON: Now that female bodybuilding is all but dead and the IFBB has come down and told the fitness competitors to soften up, where is the future?
RICK: Well, let me polish up my crystal ball... I think there is a great deal of confusion on the part of the competitors and the judges when it comes to fitness, as has been the case with women's bodybuilding.  From one contest to the next, the judging varies on the look they want.  One day, it's hard, the next day soft.  The good side of this is that we see different athletes winning.  I like that.  I get tired of seeing the same winners all the time.  Of course, the caveat to that comment is that I like it as long as I like the winners.  In fitness, of course, I think most of the women look great, so I'm nearly always satisfied from the "looks" perspective.  On the other hand, when I've gone to the competitions, I'm sometimes disappointed by someone who places poorly with a phenomenal routine, compared to someone who wins with a lousy one.  I think I've seen that happen a couple of times.

DON: Have you heard of any new trends that are on the horizon many of us aren't aware of yet?
RICK: Trends in bodybuilding and nutrition... probably not.

DON: What about in surgery, skin care, fat loss, liposuction?
RICK: Trends in laser hair removal, fat loss, skin care... probably.  Laser hair removal is hot, and certainly in the bodybuilding world, where hair is just something hiding muscle, everyone wants to know what to do.  Most of the devices work.  They all require multiple treatments with touch up procedures in the future.  And they're all pretty pricey.  We're using the "Gentlelase" system from Candela, and speaking from personal experience (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) it works pretty well. In the skin care arena, lots of us are into tanning, which we know does a job on our skin.  Retin-A has long been around working wonders for sun-aged skin problems.  There is a newer product, Kinerase, which seems to work well for wrinkle control as well, and with less of the redness and dryness associated with Retin-A. As for fat control, there's some work being done right here at U Mass which may have great meaning for those who previously haven't been considered great candidates for liposuction because they were too lean.  I can't really discuss it until my partner, who is investigating the device, gives me the go ahead.  Findings so far, though, are very favorable.

DON: If you could achieve one huge thing in your field, what would it be?
RICK: World peace and understanding.  Sure, it's not exactly in my field, but it's one of the things I care about.  As physicians, we have the unique opportunity to go across cultural and national barriers to bring our skills to those less fortunate.  This leads to greater understanding in both communities, and when this sort of interaction takes place, we move closer and closer to a point where war and hate become unthinkable.  I wish everyone could take part in the sort of expedition we take to Ecuador each year to help children with congenital problems such as cleft lip and palate, as well as other problems, such as burns and burn scarring.  We work our butts off to get ready for these trips, and we work harder once we're there.  But we get so much back that the work is really effortless.  And we make new friends and share experiences with them.  It's really just a little part of what's necessary, but it's one of the things I care about most.  Not exactly the answer you're looking for, maybe.

DON: And the WINNER of this year's Miss America IS! No, I know you are sincere about all this. If success is measured in means of money earned, what truly is success and why do you feel those with more than that want more and more?
RICK: Could you repeat the question?

DON: Never anything twice. What fitness star, bodybuilder, male and female do you admire and want to work with?
RICK: I have a great deal of respect for what Arnold Schwarzenegger has accomplished in his lifetime.  He has achieved "icon" status, and as such, has the potential to influence young people in terms of attitudes towards sports and competition and drug use.  I would like to work with him in an effort to create a program aimed at young kids to encourage healthy attitudes towards sports.  I actually wrote him about this over a year ago, but unfortunately, I didn't get a positive response.  I guess he's involved with this sort of thing in the L.A. area, but I think there is far greater potential on a national level. As for women, maybe I'd have to say Cory Everson.  She has certainly taken her career forward in such a positive way to make health and fitness appealing to many women even though she started as a "bodybuilder".  I think it's important for young women especially to have role models beyond the waifish and anorectic models who grace magazine covers.  Cory crosses boundaries by representing bodybuilding with her past and fitness in the present.

DON: What would you ask of them?
RICK: I'd like to have them call me and say they'd like to help promote drug-free sports among kids.  By the time kids are in their teens, it's too late.

DON: In the real world, we have what you do. Some go freelance because the clients demand it. Others do this because the powers that be are a pain in the ass. Why is that?
You mean plastic surgery-- private practice versus a group practice?

DON: Sure.
RICK: Private practice gives one the potential for greater independence, greater earnings, but greater financial responsibility for survival.  Within a group practice, especially nowadays, one has a cushion of protection from starvation by having an employer to soften the blow of a bad month. By working within a group, the group has greater bargaining power with insurance providers.  At the same time, one is also answerable to the group, and therefore unable, in some cases, to determine the direction of his or her practice.  This is one of the problems I'm currently encountering, and though I'm probably going to a new group practice situation, the new job has greater flexibility.

DON: What would be the ideal work environment?
RICK: One where we could treat compliant patients for all of their problems without regard to race, color, creed, or insurance predetermination.  One in which supplies were reasonably priced and waste was unheard of.  One where everyone worked together to accomplish the same goal:  making people better somehow.  Where everyone gets along great, where complications never occur, and where no one has ever heard of malpractice or workers' comp.  Sort of like our trips overseas, only with a bigger budget!

DON: What are your latest and most immediate plans now that you're an old man?
RICK: I am in the midst of some major changes in my career. I have lived in Worcester, Massachusetts for nearly 10 years, and it's time to move on.  I will be joining a friend in practice in Boston next summer.  He needs an associate to help share some of his increasing work load, and I need a change in a big way.  I need to be able to expand parts of my practice, and I'm limited because of many of my other responsibilities at U Mass.  I will still be maintaining an association with U Mass, actually, and I may still work here once a week or so. As for bodybuilding, I'll be 40 on January 3.  That means I can compete in the NPC Masters, so I will probably try that this spring and summer.  Maybe shoot for the Master's Nationals in Pittsburgh next summer-- home territory-- just for fun.  It will all depend on how I can coordinate competing with moving.

DON: That's Jim Manion's hometown show. I did that one 3 years ago. What are your fees for seminars?
RICK: You mean, how much will I pay people to come to my seminars?

DON: Yeah, laughs. One hard selling point so my readers will say "WOW" and head to your site for more info.
RICK: Let's see... I was going to say "My link to Don Lemmon's site", but that's not there yet.  Maybe the hot pictures of "MetalRoze" and Anne-Marie Crooks.  Or maybe the picture of me when I weighed 135.  Yeah, that's it.  6'1", 135... pretty damn "Wow" -able.

DON: When you were your best, what was your routine?
RICK: My routine has been the same for a while:  Six day split, one body part a day once a week.  At some point in the past couple of years, I must have been my best...

Monday: Back/Bi's

Tuesday: Hamstrings/Calves

Wednesday: Chest/Tri's

Thursday: Quads

Friday: Shoulders

Saturday: Bi's/Tri's

DON: Interesting. When you were in your best shape, what was your diet?
RICK: Last summer, while preparing for my photo shoot for Muscle & Fitness... I did six weeks of no starchy carbs.  I was shredded beyond anything I'd ever accomplished before.  It's a tough diet though.  You have to eat all the time, and drink a lot of water.

DON: What did you think I would ask?
RICK: I thought you might ask if I found it difficult to fight off all of the women who are knocking my door down for dates.

DON: That too! Dr Silverman. Thank you for your time. I enjoyed this more than you know.
RICK: Man I am tired. Laughs. See you later Don.

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