Paul G. Ruff IV, M.D., F.A.C.S
Dr. Ruff was destined to become a surgeon. As a child, Paul adored his grandfather, who was a highly respected obstetrician-gynecologist. Paul didn’t know exactly what that meant, but he knew that his grandfather helped people. His grandfather’s joy and enthusiasm for his work showed. That passion sparked Paul’s own dream, one he’s realized as one of the top cosmetic plastic surgeons in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Ruff returned to the area where he grew up and opened West End Plastic Surgery, establishing his reputation as a plastic surgeon committed to the surrounding communities, such as Reston, Arlington, and Alexandria.
Believing in a Dream
Paul’s dream shaped his life and educational goals, with the sole purpose of becoming a doctor.As his father was a Navy man stationed in Virginia, Paul grew up in and around the Washington, D.C. area. “The D.C. area has always been my home. I always knew that this was where I wanted to practice.”
Paul attended Gonzaga College High School, graduating with honors. Gonzaga’s motto is to “create a well-rounded student, a young man who is intellectually competent, open to growth, religious, loving and committed to doing justice in generous service to the people of God. Simply put, we educate our students to be ‘Men for Others.'” This educational environment, coupled with being a competitive pianist and tennis player, helped shape Paul’s future as one who would serve others in the medical field.
Paul continued his Jesuit education in college at Georgetown University. These were transformative years. It was at GU, volunteering with the Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Service (GERMS), that Paul was first exposed to patient care. “The initial experiences I had while volunteering for GERMS cemented my resolve that medicine was what I truly wanted to do. I was helping people in need. This brought me both joy and compassion for people.”
In His Grandfather’s Steps
After graduating from GU, Paul chose to enter one of the most challenging medical programs in the nation at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) in Norfolk, Virginia. “I chose to go there because it was one of the best programs for OB-GYNs. At that time my goal was still to be an OB-GYN like my grandfather,” Paul commented. EVMS also had a top plastic surgery program at the time.
Plastic surgery wasn’t even on my mind at that time. But when I was on rotation, I discovered that I really enjoyed surgery. I was continually complimented on my skills and surgical techniques. I believe that my years as a pianist and tennis player were key components in developing a talent for surgery,” Paul recalled.
As Paul became more exposed to the field of plastic surgery, he became more interested in this medical specialty. “In the plastic surgery field, you are operating from head to toe. It provided me near limitless opportunities as to what I could accomplish as a surgeon. In this specialty, thorough knowledge of anatomy and physiology are critical to providing optimal care and results for a patient. This key component, coupled with my skills, appealed to me, and I decided to pursue plastic surgery instead of becoming an OB-GYN.”
A Dream Realized
In 1993, Paul G. Ruff IV earned his new title as Paul G. Ruff IV, M.D. Following his graduation from EVMS, Dr. Ruff performed his general surgery residency and surgical critical care residency and was the chief administrative resident at Washington Hospital Center, spending 6 years there.
Then, in July of 1999, Dr. Ruff and his family moved to San Diego to complete his plastic surgery residency at the University of California, San Diego Medical Center (UCSD). Dr. Ruff’s experiences as a resident at UCSD provided him with a wealth of innovative skills. “It was as if I walked out of UCSD with a virtual toolbox of reconstructive and cosmetic skills. I have a deep appreciation for the tutelage I received from my talented mentors and for the unique residency program at UCSD. I believe this program was a key factor in my development toward becoming a complete surgeon.”
Throughout his residencies, Dr. Ruff has been recognized for exceptional skill and compassionate care as a plastic surgeon. He was awarded the Gould Award from Washington Hospital Center and the Chairman’s Prize at UCSD.
Dr. Ruff was appointed Assistant Professor of Clinical Plastic Surgery by the Georgetown University Office of Faculty and Academic Affairs based on recommendation of the Department Chair and Committee on Appointments and Promotions of the School of Medicine. In addition, he has been featured on ABC’s Bachelor in Paradise and Fox 5 News.
In 2001, after graduating from UCSD, Dr. Ruff returned home to the Washington, D.C. area and went into practice. When asked about his philosophy on being a successful cosmetic surgeon, Dr. Ruff responded, “In the cosmetic surgery field, patients come looking for help to feel better about some aspect of themselves. Plastic surgeons who become cosmetic surgeons without adequate training have a limited skill set to offer their patients. This puts the patient at a disadvantage as their outcome is ultimately affected. I can provide my patients with both my non-invasive and fully aggressive surgical skill sets. My skills, coupled with my continual aspirations to possess a thorough knowledge of the latest technologies and techniques in my industry provide my patients with optimal outcomes.
“Additionally, I believe that a key component of my success as a cosmetic surgeon is my ability to listen. Sometimes in talking to a patient, I realize that what bothers them the most is not necessarily what they initially pointed out. I spend a lot of time working to understand how a patient sees her or himself. When I can put myself in my patients’ shoes, and work to see them through their own eyes, then I can truly create what is in their mind’s eye. Patients are not a blank slate. They do not come into my office, and I do what I think is right. Instead, I strive to achieve what the patient sees through my hands by choosing the right medical treatment. I also find that it is just as important to tell a patient when his or her expectations are not possible or appropriate. Communication with my patients is key. My goal is for patients to feel as if they are talking to a friend when they come to me with their concerns. I love my job. I believe that as long as you enjoy what you do, and everyone around you is happy, then you know that you are doing the right thing.”
Philanthropy is critical to our mission. Dr. Ruff was exposed to the very personal benefits of helping others early on through his grandfather. At EVMS, he experienced the joy felt by cleft lip and palate patients treated through Operation Smile, which is based in Norfolk. As a plastic surgery resident at UCSD, he was fortunate to accompany the Interface UCSD medical mission group on 8 trips to Mexico to perform reconstructive procedures on children in underserved areas. “The community of giving that exists among the people who went on these trips is truly inspiring. The communities that we helped embraced us, and their generosity for what we did was overwhelming.” Today Dr. Ruff continues this mission through his work with The Future of Nicaragua Foundation, spending nearly 2 weeks each year treating those in remote and underserved areas. He also founded Wrinkle Erase for the Cause, a non-profit event that raises money for breast cancer research. In the past 4 years during the month of October, he has raised $150,000 that has gone toward research. “I have been blessed with certain talents and skills, and it is my responsibility to use those for the benefit of those in need,” says Dr. Ruff.