Photos Andy Calvert
After experiencing significant weight loss or giving birth to several children, some people no longer appreciate what they see in the mirror, or miss their former selves. These days, though, they may be able to feel like their old selves again. Dr. Justin Gusching, owner of Reflections Cosmetic Surgery in Cartersville, Georgia, has dedicated himself to helping people regain their self-confidence by reversing the changes circumstances have caused to their bodies.
Dr. Gusching is a doctor of osteopathy. The field of osteopathy encompasses a broad range of study and medical practice, dealing with many issues that affect a patient’s general health. To this discipline, Dr. Gusching brings his well-honed surgical skills and his commitment to making people not only healthier but happier with their lives by being happier with their bodies.
Building the architecture of a doctor
As a boy growing up in the Midwestern United States, Justin Gusching did not have a career in medicine on his mind. Back then, he was more interested in sports and the great outdoors. He says, “I grew up in a small town in Ohio, surrounded by cornfields. There was nothing to do there but get into trouble or go fishing, so that’s what we did.”
In his college years, he faced an internal tug-of-war between his creative side and his scientific side. “I went to undergrad at Ohio State,” says Dr. Gusching, “where I spent my first two years studying architecture. I was always torn between something health-related or design-related.” Following in the family footsteps was an early motivation for him. “My grandfather went to Ohio State, and he was an engineer, so my family kind of pushed me in that direction. I did well in my architectural studies, but I eventually decided it wasn’t for me.”
Ultimately, changing his major was driven by his personal interest in good health. “I was always big into sports, bodybuilding, eating right,” he says, “so, I studied biology with a focus in physiology and anatomy. I was going to go to chiropractor school, but I began researching osteopathy, which I liked because it used a holistic approach to medicine.” He explains that in osteopathy, the practitioner doesn’t just try to heal someone by giving them medicine but strives to return the patient’s body to a homeostatic state so they can fight off infections without needing drugs.
Also, he was interested in orthopedics, bones, joints, and overall health, so it made sense to go in that direction. “So,” he says, “I quit architecture—I did a restart—and went to Ohio University for medical school.” From there he went to Cleveland Clinic South Pointe Hospital, where he did general surgery for five years. He adds, “Then I went to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and trained at Southern Surgical Arts in cosmetic surgery, so that was my fellowship. I’m boarded in the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery. I’m triple-boarded: general surgery, cosmetic surgery, and facial cosmetic surgery.”
After Dr. Gusching trained at Southern Surgical Arts, the organization brought him on as a partner, where he worked alongside three other doctors for several years.
Wanting to go out on his own, Dr. Gusching understood that such a bold move would require him to narrow his focus, to fix on a specialty. He says, “I knew if I was going to do cosmetic surgery, I would have to be all-in or not at all. I couldn’t do it part-time and then do general surgery too. Even back when I did my fellowship, I knew I wanted to eventually start my own practice.”
After gaining a wealth of valuable experience in Chattanooga, Dr. Gusching came in contact with Reflections Skin and Laser in Cartersville, Georgia. He explains, “They had decided they wanted to have a doctor in-house to make their business more robust, more of a medical spa as opposed to a skin spa.” Now the two businesses—Reflections Cosmetic Surgery and (the renamed) Reflections Medical Spa—work together in a cooperative partnership, yet they both remain independent entities. Reflections Cosmetic Surgery has two other locations as well: one in Rome and another in Roswell, where Dr. Gusching does consultations and sees follow-up patients. However, all surgeries are done at the main location in Cartersville.
Founding a practice that matters
Early on, Dr. Gusching’s fascination with the skeletomuscular system made him interested in pursuing orthopedics. But in his third year of medical school, his hospital rotations exposed him to a wide variety of specialty options and possibilities. He says, “During your rotations, you get a feel for what you want to do. I already knew I wanted to operate. I liked surgery. So, then it came down to general surgery or orthopedics. I was drawn to orthopedics because of sports and the mechanics of the body, but with general surgery, there were more fellowship options: cardiothoracic surgeon, vascular surgeon, trauma surgeon, plastic surgeon, cosmetic surgeon.”
After weighing his options, he did general surgery for a while and liked it. Eventually, he chose cosmetic surgery. Explaining why, he says, “For one thing, it’s a better lifestyle. A general surgeon is always on call and works long, long hours. Also, this is more rewarding—big time. Back when I did general surgery, I might treat someone with, say, cancer and do a mastectomy, or lymph node dissection, or cut their colon out.
I would cure them of their cancer, but afterward, they were emotionally miserable. Even though their prognosis was great, they were still facing an extensive recovery. Because they had so much going on, there was always a somber atmosphere. But here at Reflections, after someone has had three or four kids—and they just want to get back to where they were—I do their surgery and the next day they’re excited and so happy. The atmosphere is completely different, positive. That is very so rewarding.”
Lifting their spirits
Reflections Cosmetic Surgery provides an amazing array of services. Dr. Gusching says, “I do almost any kind of cosmetic surgery, head-to-toe, with the exception of noses and ears. My main work is doing mommy makeovers, like breast and tummy. I do a lot of tummy tucks. Liposuction 360, all the way around. Lots of breast lifts.” For the face, Reflections offers face lifts, neck lifts, brow lifts, facial resurfacing, and more. For the body, they provide thighplasty, brachioplasty, Brazilian butt lifts, breast augmentation, breast lifts, breast reduction, and cellulite reduction, among other offerings.
Expanding the practice
Discussing his plans for the future of Reflections Cosmetic Surgery, Dr. Gusching says, “I want to build the Rome and Roswell locations up to the point where I’ll need to hire another doctor. From there, I’d like to expand our Cartersville building. That would be my three-year plan. Beyond that, it’s hard to say. We’ll just continue to expand. But the Cartersville office will remain our main location. I don’t want to open so many locations that we’re spread too thin, and the quality of our work goes down.”
He adds, “One reason I want to get another doctor in here—besides growing the business, of course—is because I could get deployed again, and I need another doctor here while I’m gone.” Dr. Gusching serves as a lieutenant colonel in the Tennessee Army National Guard. He’s been in for 16 years. “My last deployment was in 2019,” he says. “I was in Iraq doing both medical services for soldiers and combat. At that time, I was still working at Southern Surgical Arts, and I had partners, so being gone was not a big deal. But now someone needs to be here bringing in revenue for the company while I’m deployed.”
Dr. Gusching explains why he chose to join the military as well as pursue medicine: “That same grandfather who was an engineer was in the military in World War II and received the Purple Heart. He and his brothers all fought in that war. Because of that, I’ve always wanted to do something more, something respectable, to pay them back and carry on my grandfather’s legacy. So, I joined up while I was in medical school.”
Clearing up misconceptions
Many people, it seems, have unfounded ideas about cosmetic surgery, both regarding its patients and the professionals who work in the field. “I’m pretty much just a normal guy,” Dr. Gusching says. “People tend to want to put doctors and surgeons up on a pedestal. They get that ‘white-coat syndrome,’ and they get nervous around doctors. But doctors are just normal people. I like to go deer hunting, drink bourbon, and ride motorcycles. I like to relate to my patients on a friendly level. All my patients have my cell phone number, and they’ll text me if they’re having any issues, but most of the time it’s just quick questions. They feel more comfortable having that personal contact. It’s been nothing but positive feedback from patients because they know I’ll go out of my way to help them.”
Another misconception about cosmetic surgery is that it’s all about personal vanity. Dr. Gusching says, “Somehow, some people think these are just vain people trying to look different. But cosmetic surgery doesn’t have the negative connotation it used to have. Truly, it’s people trying to get back to where they used to be, mostly prior to having kids. That’s the biggest thing. They’re not being selfish; they’re just fixing what was changed through childbearing. Also, there’s a lot of weight loss going on these days, too. People are losing crazy amounts of weight and then have to deal with all that skin. Getting that fixed is not selfish at all; they’re just trying to return to whatever normal looks like for them. It boosts their self-esteem, and we’re here to help with all that.”