Dr. Rice received his medical degree from Loma Linda University in Southern California, where he also completed an internship in general surgery and specialty surgical training in Otolaryngology—head and neck surgery. Dr. Rice went on to complete advanced training in Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the Institute of Facial Plastic Surgery. He is double board-certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology, head and neck surgery, and the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery.
He has completed additional training courses in:
He has performed thousands of operations since starting his practice in 1996.
Dr. Rice has also contributed to medical research, developing advances in the field of facial plastic surgery. Following his commitment to the betterment of the quality of life for children everywhere, he has traveled widely throughout Central and South America, providing free medical and surgical care to dozens of children with cleft lip and palate, congenital facial deformities, and other maladies that are out of financial reach for the poor in these areas.
The objects in one's office are often a reflection of the man himself. From the vintage surgical tools framed in the glass case to the enormous framed photograph of the snow-capped peaks to the rows of medical journals lining the bookcase below photos of his smiling children, Dr. Reginald Rice’s office is an intimate look into his world. But it was a silhouette of a woman’s face outlined in gold, hanging eye level on the back wall that had an unusual yet compelling similarity to the ancient Japanese artform Kintsugi.
Kintsugi is the art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer mixed with powdered gold. This gold is thought to restore beauty to the fractured ceramic with kindness.
When asked about the art piece in his office, Dr. Rice was unfamiliar with this Japanese art form of Kintsugi. But often, even without intention, there are stories written on the walls of an office that demonstrate the core of a man. And for Dr. Reginald Rice, the core focus on the Kintsugi-like face was intriguing.
A deep love for the face and beauty is why his decision as a young fellow in medical school over 25 years ago made better sense than he may have realized at the time. A double board-certified doctor in both ENT and Facial Plastic Surgery makes him an unbeatable choice for facial surgical reconstruction.
Not only is he highly educated and certified, but Dr. Rice is unmatched in his attention to detail, a sentiment echoed by everyone he works alongside. It is what makes him unique, even for a facial plastic surgeon.
“His patients feel so comfortable with him. His attention to detail is what sets him apart. He is very precise, a perfectionist, you might say,” an employee of 15 years remarked.
Dr. Rice is also said to be “the kindest doctor you will ever meet,” It seems that same care flows throughout this entire practice, just like the gold reference in Kintsugi.
Perhaps the heart to treat patients with so much love and respect came from his upbringing. Watching his father care for some of the most marginalized communities in the world as a medical missionary undoubtedly left a deep imprint on young 5-year-old Reg. Watching his dad give his life to helping the less fortunate must have profoundly impacted his heart-- showing him that caring for people’s health is a privilege and a way to serve the world.
Over a bowl of steaming hot oatmeal with a touch of coffee creamer and a dab of salt mixed in, Dr. Rice explained that he never felt pressure to be a doctor, but it probably was in his blood from birth. Dr. Rice’s family is full of medical professionals everywhere you look. (from surgeons to hospital administrators, to OBGYN’s, nurses, and on and on). “Health care runs deep in my family; I don’t think I ever considered being anything else,” Dr. Rice said.
The other profession he found interesting was during a work-study program in high school when he worked as a diesel mechanic. He said getting dirty, taking the cars apart, and putting them back together reminded him of his childhood, mostly spent working on model airplanes.
A fascination with how things are put together, coupled with the fact that his dad would come home and talk about how delivering a baby was the most rewarding thing he did in a day, put into little Reggie’s mind that medicine might be something he wanted to do. (Although when medical school rolled around, he found out that most babies come between 3 AM and 6 AM, so he decided that perhaps he needed to pursue other avenues!)
It was a friend of his who turned him onto a specialty he had never heard of called ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat). Dr. Rice knew he liked working with various people, from children to older people, with both men and women, and ENT provided that opportunity. And as an ENT doctor, Dr. Rice would get to do everything from extensive multiple-hour procedures to the most minute surgeries done in medicine.
“You have intellectual challenges and dexterity challenges,” both of which Dr. Rice enjoys.
With only 203 slots open per year nationwide, Reginald knew it would be a competitive specialty but decided to go for it anyway. He knew he was going to have to work hard to get in but wanted to do it.
“ENT doctors were the very first plastic surgeons,” Dr. Rice explained.
“Organized plastic surgery came out in 1973 as an outflow of general reconstruction. Back in the early 1900’s medicine and surgery were only for repair. That changed as pioneers in ENT began to do rhinoplasties, which were the first cosmetic procedures.” He went on to describe.
After seeing one of the professors at his school do a procedure so beautifully and gently, he realized, “that’s what I want to do. I want to help someone by changing that big bump on their nose and make them feel good about themselves.”
Becoming an ENT doctor became a somewhat obsessive goal for Dr. Rice when he realized how high the bar was set. Dr. Rice got an opportunity due to his hard work, good grades, and raw determination to do a fellowship with one of the founding members of the American Academy of Facial Plastic Surgery, Dr. Leslie Bernstein.
“You could say the whole world learned rhinoplasty from this doctor,” Dr. Rice expounded.
With the fellowship paying $12,000 a year (and half of that going to malpractice insurance), Dr. Rice, his wife Luanne, and their new baby girl Danika were with a whopping $500.00 a month to live on for the entire year. But this was a sacrifice that they were willing to make.
After the fellowship, it was time for Dr. Rice to open his first ENT practice in Placerville right inside his father’s office.
“I was fortunate to enjoy the good reputation that my father built serving the city for so many years.”
As life does, one thing led to another, and the Esthetics Center was born 25 years later. One thing that didn’t change was Dr. Rice’s steadfast commitment to his patients and employees, safety, and a competitive learning environment. From the team huddles twice a week, to investing in the most advanced equipment, to the beautifully designed offices that he and his wife Luanne created together-- every detail was thought through with both the patients and employees in mind.
The true heart of a man’s work comes out when seemingly no one is listening or watching. Like when a 30-year-old waitress who had received a rhinoplasty from another doctor who didn’t "fix that bump" on her nose came to Dr. Rice to get it done again. To see her take the mirror from Dr. Rice’s hand as nerves filled her mind wondering if it worked this time around. Dr. Rice gently touched her shoulder to reassure her as tears came to her eyes and a huge smile spread over her face as she said, “I can’t believe it, it looks so good, the bump is gone.”
Or the moment Dr. Rice leaned over a patient who had just received a facelift and said, “It went great, and if you need anything, you call me. You have my personal cell phone number, even if it is 3:00 AM; keep calling until I answer. I leave my phone by my bedside table on vibrate just for this reason.”
These were two powdered gold moments caught through an open door in the office, unique glimpses of Dr. Rice restoring hope to vulnerable, beautiful people who had lost confidence.
Restoring beauty to the broken, honoring the human face, and valuing the intricacies and uniqueness of the body with the care and kindness of a Kintsugi artist is a gift rarely seen in the medical field. Countless patients shimmer with the gold of his brush, and his skills continue to heal hearts and faces every day.
By: Lindsey Snyder