Dr. Young Cho, M.D., Ph.D,
Houston Plastic Surgeon
Board certified Plastic and Reconstructive surgeon Dr. Young Cho is the Director of Integrated Aesthetics, located in Houston, Texas. Dr. Cho specializes in aesthetic surgery, breast reconstruction procedure, hand surgery, microsurgery, and post skin cancer restoration surgery in the Houston area. His undergraduate education was attained from McGill University, Montreal and Quebec, after which he earned a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree from Cambridge University in England.
Dr. Cho received his medical degree (MD) from Yale University School of Medicine and completed his residency and comprehensive six-year plastic surgery training in plastic surgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Department of Plastic Surgery, in Milwaukee. During his training he was awarded a year-long clinical research fellowship with the National Institute of Health (NIH) to study the brain’s role during nerve injury.
Dr. Cho was recruited by the Medical College of Wisconsin to join his former training program in Wisconsin, however, he elected to move to Texas to pursue plastic and reconstructive surgery in private practice.
Dr. Cho has hospital privileges at the Houston Northwest Medical Center. He is committed to building an integrative model of medicine, which brings together doctors of different specialties to offer his patients comprehensive medical and wellness-centered care.
Dr. Cho lives in The Woodlands, is married to Dr. Melissa Chiang, a dermatologist and has a lovely daughter and son.
A Conversation with Houston Plastic Surgeon Dr. Young Cho
Dr. Cho, How Did You Decide to Become a Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon?
My becoming a plastic surgeon in Houston was a result of a journey filled with challenging and enjoyable choices. My initial desire was to pursue original scientific research, which led me to England where I was doing graduate work in biological chemistry and finishing up my Ph.D. at Cambridge University. During that time, I applied to medical school as an adjunct to preparing for a career as a research scientist. When I was accepted into Yale University School of Medicine, I went with the idea of pursuing the field of internal medicine with a specialization in infectious diseases. For my clinical rotations, I decided to do the surgical rotations first – to get them out of the way – in order to focus on the areas I was most interested in for the duration of my medical school training. Plastic surgery was my first rotation, and I was simply amazed by what I encountered. I saw cancer reconstruction surgery of the breast tissue, nipple, and then tattooing of the areolas (area surrounding the nipple) performed in three separate patients at various stages of their breast reconstruction. Witnessing these surgeries had a profound impact on me, and I realized that a plastic surgeon could make a real difference in peoples’ lives. That was the turning point.
You were also a research scientist at that time. How did this merge with your growing interest in plastic surgery?
Before, during, and after my plastic surgery schooling and training I maintained a strong interest in conducting scientific research. I did a study on functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FMRI), looking at brain activity. In plastic surgery, we don’t know a lot about the brain and how it functions in the wake of a serious hand or nerve injury. I then wrote and received a grant from the NIH (National Institute of Health) to conduct animal research in order to explore this further. The work went well and a large research program and several NIH grants have been sprung from this initial effort. I was heavily recruited by the Medical College of Wisconsin to pursue a career in both clinical work and scientific research. However, my wife, a dermatologist and dermato-pathologist, is from California and she wanted to live in a warmer climate. Opportunity opened the door for her own medical career in Houston and I was comfortable relocating to accommodate her professional goals and purpose, knowing that my own career would evolve.
That led us to Houston to continue our respective careers in medicine, and there I began doing a lot of reconstructive surgery for patients with skin cancer and serious wounds. Over time, the aesthetic side of my practice has developed, as well. I find happiness by being flexible about the course my life and career takes over time – the paths that emerge as one explores and responds to opportunity. I don’t mind change and I enjoy challenges.
How do you define physical beauty or physical appeal?
Beauty is a relative notion, actually. What I perceive to be beautiful may be quite different from my patient’s viewpoint. My patients come to discuss their concerns and their own ideas about what beauty consists of…and that’s what matters. My goal is to help them attain the appearance that makes them more beautiful in their own eyes. That’s how I look at success in my work. Objectively speaking, proportion is important in terms of what makes a face or body attractive. There is a harmonious balance in the different parts of the body and the features of the face, and the overall effect of balance is pleasing to the eye. Of course, even physical proportion is subjective in nature – and certainly culturally influenced.