Dr. Tutu Cheng Talks About the Rewards of Helping Patients Renew their Confidence
Dr. Tutu Cheng was inspired to become a doctor when she was young, possibly after seeing her grandmother, Ma, sick. “That’s one of my earliest memories,” she says.
Now a plastic surgeon, Dr. Cheng relocated from Philadelphia to become the first plastic surgeon at Heart of Florida Physician Group in Davenport on Dec. 1. “When I was invited down, I fell in love with the community,” she says. “It’s a very pretty area.”
She says she’s always wanted to help people. “Being a doctor is a very challenging, yet humbling profession,” she adds. “The reward lies in the rapport established with patients, who’ve entrusted you with literally their body and life.”
Dr. Cheng enjoys connecting with patients and being able to transform their quality of life, helping to restore their confidence and return to their lives as much as possible after an illness or trauma. “I have the ability to help and heal patients from a surgical as well as psychological standpoint,” she says. “I am trained to make a patient look and feel whole again.”
Dr. Cheng has a gentle bedside manner and takes time to listen to her patients. “I’m very open,” she says. “Honesty is very important. If they are not a good candidate for the procedure, I certainly will not proceed.”
Dr. Cheng earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., then received her medical degree at St. George’s University School of Medicine in Grenada, West Indies. She did five years of interning and residency training in general surgery at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown, PA, followed by a three-year fellowship in plastic surgery at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia.
“As a medical student, when I was rotating through general surgery, I worked with a plastic surgeon who was taking care of post-mastectomy patients,” she recalls. “I really enjoyed the rapport that is established with the women.”
It was there that she was inspired to work as a plastic surgeon. “It was through my interaction with these women that I realized the integral role of the plastic surgeon in transforming the patient to her new beautiful self and helping her heal as a whole,” she says.
She explains that the field best matches her ideals as a physician and surgeon. “I value the physician-patient relationship as it embodies the trust they have in me to care for them, and I do not take this symbolic gesture lightly nor for granted,” she adds.
Dr. Cheng offers a wide range of plastic surgery services, including:
- Body contouring for massive weight-loss patients
- Breast augmentation, reconstruction, reduction or lifts
- Burn reconstruction
- Eyelid surgery
- Facial aesthetics including nose surgery, facelift, and botox
- Saggy arm repair
- Skin reconstruction after skin cancer
- Tummy tucks
Born in Vietnam of Chinese descent, Dr. Cheng was raised in central New Jersey after her family fled southeast Asia at the end of the Vietnam War. “We were one of the boat people,” she recalls.
Her and her husband, who works in pharmaceutical sales, have a 3-year-old daughter.
Dr. Cheng enjoys traveling, exercising, shopping, and eating out, including fried rice and other Chinese takeout food— even if it’s not authentic. “I’m used to mom’s cooking,” she explains.
She is excited about being part of the Heart of Florida team, and eager to make her own mark.
Dr. Cheng is accepting new patients of all ages, with a focus on adults who want to improve their appearance. “My goal is to help my patients enhance their natural features without appearing as if they had anything ‘done,’” she says. “In my eyes, subtlety and discretion are key in maintaining timeless and classic beauty.”
When reconstruction is done, she says her goal is to “restore form and function for the patient, as close to their usual self as possible in order to maintain a fulfilling lifestyle.” Furthermore, she points out that there is “no age limit in helping patients look and feel their best.”
Her office is located in the Plastic Surgery Department at 40124 U.S. Highway 27, Ste. 207, Davenport, on the Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center campus. Her hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The office telephone number is 863-419-8137.