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One local cosmetic surgeon, who spoke to the Pitch on the condition of anonymity, says other plastic surgeons saw their own lack of success reflected in the windows of Swanson's ostentatious office.
"That building to a lot of doctors was a sore point," he says. "Everybody wanted to have a building like that, but nobody could afford it. And his parking lot was always full."
The anonymous surgeon described his local colleagues as "a cut-throat, back-stabbing bunch" who delighted in "Swanson-bashing" sessions in hospital lounges. "When the opportunity existed to badmouth him, some plastic surgeons took the opportunity to do that instead of thinking, 'There but for the grace of God go I,'" says the doctor.
Swanson declined to allow the Pitch to interview patients who have been happy with his work. His Web site, however, includes streaming video with impassioned testimonials.
"My stomach is flat, and it's just the way that I'd always imagined it would be," says one trim woman, while the soothing strains of Pachelbel's Canon play in the background.
"It's changed my life.... It's made a huge difference," says a tearful woman who underwent rhinoplasty for a nose she had never liked.
"He's a delightful, talented, wonderful, professional man," says an elderly woman. "Anyone can turn themselves over to him and feel perfectly at ease. He's just wonderful."
Outside the Swanson Center for Cosmetic Surgery in Leawood, a bronze statue of a ballerina stands on pointed toe atop a waterless fountain. One taut leg stretches backward above her head. Toned arms stretch toward the sky, reflected in the green-tinted floor-to-ceiling windows that line the front of the building.
Inside, scented candles burn beside an arrangement of lilies. An ornate chandelier dangles from the high ceiling, and soft lighting accentuates an oil painting of a single flower. Within a thick block of frosted-glass sculpture, the face of a beautiful woman leans to kiss an equally beautiful man.
Two women await their appointments with Dr. Swanson.