Dr. Rick Silverman Interview
Article care of www.star-interviews.com
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.
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.
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...
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."
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
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.
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.
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
RICK: Now, can I ask a question??
RICK: Okay, what do you think of when someone says "Plastic
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"?
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?
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.
It seems your schedule isn't, say 'hectic' but full.
What is your workout schedule like and how do you fit
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
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.
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.
I don't have to post this if you aren't interested in
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: :-)
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
RICK: Could you repeat the question?
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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
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
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"
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...
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.
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.
That too! Dr Silverman. Thank you for your time. I enjoyed
this more than you know.
Don Lemmon's Nutritional and Exercise Know How
RICK: Man I am tired. Laughs. See you later Don.
Visit The Doctor www.RickSilverman.com
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