BEVERLY — Plastic surgery is an art, especially for Dr. Beverly Shafer.
Shafer, who has been in practice on the North Shore for 22 years, frequently works with breast cancer patients. But before deciding to go to medical school, Shafer was an artist with a particular affinity for Michelangelo and his anatomical works of art.
She studied for her anatomy class by drawing anatomical sketches, photocopying them and sharing them with her classmates.
“It was the best combination of two worlds because we all got straight A’s,” she said.
Eventually, she decided that medical school was the better bet.
“There’s only so many fine artists, and I wanted to do something that I could excel at,” she said.
Originally from New Mexico, Shafer completed her training through Harvard-affiliated hospitals. She found a passion for plastic surgery thanks to Dr. Rusty Quinto, with whom she had done a nasal reconstruction on a man whose nose was shot off during the Vietnam War. Shafer found inspiration in Quinto, who also had a side job designing costumes for the Muppets.
“I realized how creative and innovative plastic surgery could be,” she said, calling it a combination of artistic temperament, three-dimensional painting and science.
Today, with a private practice based in Beverly’s Cummings Center, Shafer does many other procedures, including cosmetic surgery and body contouring after massive weight loss. But she’s also worked with many area women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, performing breast surgery and reconstruction.
Some breast cancer patients come to Shafer through word-of-mouth.
Others are referred to her from their primary care physicians. Shafer said many women feel comfortable coming to her because she’s a female surgeon.
When she first began practicing on the North Shore, Shafer said there weren’t many surgeons in the area offering breast reconstruction.