The End of Genetic Limitations
An Interview With Dr. Bruce Nadler
by Garrison Kane
Bruce Nadler is one of a kind. Dr. Nadler (or "Nads," as he is affectionately known) is the premier bodybuilding "constructionist." Yeah, I just made that word up, but since the good doctor doesn't fall into any traditional category, it seems as apt as any. You see, Nads' background, prior to receiving his medical degree in 1971, was that of a competitive bodybuilder and a sculptor. This makes him, unlike most plastic surgeons, supremely suited towards understanding what the ideal muscular body should and could look like.
I met up with Dr. Nadler at his Park Avenue office in New York City. No one in his office bothered to give me a second look, but then again, why should they? This is a place frequented by some of the world's best professional bodybuilders, a place where they travel to get those "finishing touches" that can make the difference between winning a big show or placing out of the money.
To some, the idea of cosmetic surgery may seem a little radical or, at the very least, unnatural. Yet, as Bruce puts it, "There's nothing at all natural about bodybuilding." You gotta' admit, lifting weights, taking supplements and/or drugs, eating every three hours, and even removing body hair is not exactly "nature's plan." But the very essence of bodybuilding is to look extraordinary. This is where Bruce Nadler comes in. He is the next and newest step toward physical perfection.
If you've ever wondered what it would be like to wake up one day and find your genetic flaws erased, wonder no more. It's now a reality. And Bruce Nadler is the man who can do it.
T: What was it that made you decide to specialize in surgical body sculpting for bodybuilders?
BN: I became interested in bodybuilding as a teenager, as many young men do, but what I really wanted was to be a sculptor. The weightlifting went from being an athletic endeavor to a more artistic pursuit. My mom told me that if being an artist was to be my profession, the only money I'd make would be after I'm dead! When I started studying medicine, it seemed like a natural progression to combine all of the talents, and that naturally led to plastic surgery. At the time, it was mostly reconstructive surgery, but little by little, the cosmetic applications started to capture the public's imagination.
T: Do you still compete as a bodybuilder?
BN: I haven't competed in a while because I can't force myself to diet. But last year, I won the overall masters in the Tri States. The fact that I do compete helps me to have an understanding of what a bodybuilder would want, whereas they may go to someone else and the doctor will say, "I don't see anything wrong." It's a matter of knowing the degree of perfection that a bodybuilder would be looking for.
For instance, one of the more popular procedures that I do is "ab etching." The theory is to bring out the muscularity by removing the fat in between the muscles, which is different from ab sculpting where they leave blocks of fat to look like muscles. The problem with "sculpting" is that, as soon as you twist your body, it looks very unnatural. If you have some level of muscularity, I can "increase your inheritance," so to speak, by enhancing your natural genetic potential. This procedure can be used anywhere on the body. I can give you more separation in the deltoids, cleaner lines in the biceps. Anything. And that's something a typical plastic surgeon may not do.
T: Speaking of going past one's genetic potential, I understand that you will prescribe steroid therapy to someone who is eligible for testosterone replacement?
BN: I'm my own test laboratory in that respect because, in the last two years, I've been taking 6 to 8 IUs a week of growth hormone, and I alternate between 200 mg a week of deca and 200 mg of testosterone cypionate the next week. Instead of going super physiological, I believe in just going to maximum natural levels to that of a man in his twenties. In this way, there are no side effects.
T: Would staying on exogenous GH, non-stop, lower endogenous levels of GH?
BN: Probably, but I compare it to being a diabetic. You just accept it as a lifestyle. The same thing applies to testosterone therapy. If you need it, you just stay on it. I'll be 52 years old this month, and I noticed at about age 45 a certain decline in strength. I also started gaining fat more easily. I hadn't done steroids before that point, but since I started using them in the past two years, I've put on about 25 pounds of mass. My body fat stays at about 9% even though I don't watch my diet at all, unlike in the past when, no matter how well I ate, I would still get fat. I also heal more quickly from injuries.
T: Why do you think that there is still such a hysteria concerning steroids in this country?
BN: I've always felt that politicians always have to make the majority of the electorate think that they're doing something—so they inconvenience a small, unimportant group, like bodybuilders. They have no idea what they're talking about. Somebody hands them a speech, and they go! They took something that could have been done safely and sent it to the black market and all of the inherent dangers that go along with dealing with that element. Will they ever be legal again? I hope so.
T: We're working on it! Maybe it can slip through in the life extension field.
BN: Well, life extension, or "youth extension," is getting very popular, and more and more drugs are becoming readily available.
T: What do you think of the current crop of natural growth hormone releasers?
BN: Major drug companies have a lot of money invested in the research of these things, and it looks as if the GH secretagogues are of very little value. Some are known to show elevation, but it's negligible. Even then, there is a receptor shutdown after about two months.
T: I'm surprised that they worked at all.
BN: It's very hit and miss. The spike is also too short in duration to make any difference. As far as the sublingual sprays, some of them do contain real growth hormone, but it's one four-hundredth of an IU! I'd like to see some blood tests that show any elevation from that!
T: What is the price for a month's supply of GH?
BN: I make arrangements with the pharmacies to sell the GH to patients for exactly the price that I would pay for it—about ten dollars an IU.
T: That's a pretty good price! I get the feeling that you are going to get a lot of calls once this article is published.
BN: When the Japanese version comes out, it will be even cheaper. I believe that within a few years, GH replacement will be as commonplace as cough medicine. I should add that this is not recommended for young people. If you already have a high level and take in additional GH, it isn't of much benefit, and that's when you get all of the side effects, like acromegaly. You also run the risk of diabetes and accelerated tumor growth. Remember, you're not going to look good just by what you inject or swallow. You have to work out, eat right, and supplement.
Some people think that we're fooling with nature, but I feel that growing old is a disease process and should be fought. Nature has no need for you after you pass the age of procreation. We are here to proliferate the species—no other reason. So when you can no longer reproduce, you have to be killed off to make room for the next generation. That's why it starts to decline so rapidly after 40. But I want to go down kicking and screaming. It's a philosophy.
T: What are your thoughts on steroid use by younger men?
BN: If they are cycled just to get an occasional "boost," it can be done safely. There are good steroids and bad steroids. I should state that, in order for me to prescribe steroids, the patient must prove to be hypogonadal. I don't prescribe any oral steroids. I mostly recommend deca.
T: And the brand available at pharmacies is Steris?
BN: Steris has closed down!
T: Oh, no!!!
BN: Yeah, now it's only Organon...at three times the cost.
T: Have you had any surgery done on yourself?
BN: Yes, I had liposuction. I started getting jealous of my patients! There was that last bit of fat lapping over my belt that just wouldn't go away, so I had it done, and it hasn't been back. Liposuction is the only real spot reducer. I haven't had work done on my face, but when the time comes, I'll probably get a lift.
T: What is your most common surgical procedure?
BN: I think that I've set a record for doing more gynocomastia surgery than anyone else. Over 700 cases! Breast implants would have to be second.
T: I knew a woman who had perfect C-cup breasts, and she had them enlarged to the point where they looked like Tupperware bowls. Would you ever dissuade someone from having cosmetic surgery?
BN: It's important to have long talks with the patient and know what they really want. I get some bizarre requests. You learn not to make judgements. I write for a trade magazine for strippers [Extreme], and I can tell you that some of those women know that the bigger the breasts, the more in demand they become. They make money by looking freaky.
T: I guess that, like beauty, deformity is in the eye of the beholder.
BN: Absolutely. And as far as turning people away, yes. For example, I won't do lipo on fat people. I'd recommend that they first clean up their diet and start an exercise program. Then, when I do the work, it will look better and the fat won't come back. It's also better to work on the problem before it gets too bad. I always say that the best compliment is when someone sees a patient of mine and thinks that they look great, but they don't know why. The best job is one that isn't too obvious.
T: I understand that you have a new procedure for calf implants?
BN: Yes, I use a soft solid silastic implant (the texture of muscle) that can be shaped any way you want. Round, diamond...it can't break or leak. It's slipped into the fascial compartment over the heads of the gastrocnemius, so it stays within the muscle confines. Most implants being used, like the ones that Lou Ferrigno had to have removed, are just placed under the skin. Calf size is determined genetically by the length of the tendons. If you have short tendons, then all you have to do is walk, and your calves will grow.
I use a similar technique with the pec implant. It's inserted between the pec major and the pec minor. It pushes the pec forward so that, when you flex, what shows is your own muscle. You also don't get that lower pec droop found in other pec implants.
T: Could pec implants affect flexibility?
BN: They shouldn't. If a surgeon doesn't know what a perfect pec should look like, the results can be a disaster. I just worked on a professional baseball player who was born without a pectoral muscle. He is now doing commercials without his shirt on.
T: What are the prices for the other various procedures?
BN: The total cost of most liposuction, including office visits, anesthesia, everything, is about $5,100. Implants can cost $5,000-$7,000.
T: I guess I'm stuck with my skinny calves after all. Any new techniques on the horizon?
BN: There are new things all of the time. Some things, like ultrasonic liposuction, I'm not a big proponent of. Lasers should be used only by laser specialists. Sometimes people fall so in love with technology that they feel a need to use it in spite of its effectiveness.
I think that, in the future, there will be doctors who are "enhancement specialists." They will deal with all aspects of youth extension, performance enhancement, and body alteration. It will include all forms of surgery, drugs, and hormone therapy.
T: Doc, it sounds as if you're doing some of that fascinating work already. You look incredible, especially for someone your age.
BN: I feel like a man twenty years younger.
T: One last hypothetical question. What do you think would happen if you stopped taking the GH, testosterone, and deca durabolin?
BN: [Thinks for a moment] Well, I guess I'd turn into an old man!
In 1959, a story by Charles Beaumont entitled "Number 12 Looks Just like You" (later made into an episode of "The Twilight Zone") spoke of a futuristic society that eliminated many of the world's woes by putting people through a "transformation" that would make them young and beautiful. Today, we're getting close to living in that brave new world.
I think it's fair to say that most people would choose to be as attractive as possible. Like anything else, cosmetic enhancement can be taken too far (e.g. Michael Jackson). It's not meant to be a cure-all. But it's an option; in some cases, the only option.
After talking to Dr. Nadler, I felt much more at ease about surgery as a method of improving one's appearance. The idea of steroid and GH therapy also sounds enticing. I think it's safe to assume that I may be making another call on the doctor, soon. Very soon.
If you wish to contact "The Liposuctionator," you may do so by either calling 1-800-445-0505 or visiting his website at
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