A decades’ long fixture in Beverly Hills plastic surgery circles, Dr. Toby Mayer is equally as proficient a polo player as he is a facial plastic surgeon.  Many might agree that playing polo is a luxurious reward for the years of hard work it takes to become a successful surgeon in such a competitive environment. However, those that are keen to play polo might say that it is the talent and tenacity of playing such a fast and competitive sport that keeps Dr. Mayer fit and focused enough to sustain his position as a leading plastic surgeon and a partner at one of the most successful practices in Southern California. Dr. Mayer‘s team recently won the Santa Barbara Polo Club Trophy and Aesthetic Insider was there to enjoy the moment. In this interview with Aesthetic Insider News, Dr. Mayer discusses his start at Polo and his endurance as a long-time facial plastic surgeon.

Dr. Toby Mayer at the Santa Barbara Polo Club

How Did You Get Started As A Polo Player?
My cousin gave me two horses to use and keep at my home since I had a stable and corrals for the horses. I realized how much I enjoyed being around these incredible creatures and decided that I wanted to upgrade the time I spent with them. At first I wasn’t sure about a horse sport but wanted something that wasn’t too dangerous such as rodeo riding, etc. Then a friend went to Will Rogers to play Polo and I decided to go with him. Once I started there was no looking back. I took my horses there with him until one day they needed someone as a substitute. Once I hit the ball I was hooked.

What Do You Need To Do To Keep Yourself In Shape For Such A Rigorous Sport?
Flexibility is the most important element in Polo so I stretch a great deal. Also I do Alexander Technique lessons. These are very important in keeping one using your muscles and body properly. I run for stamina and hit a ball with a short Mallet. I have run between surgeries in Beverly Hills for 35 years, which sometimes surprises other colleagues and patients as they see me running up and down Rodeo Drive with a mallet and a ball. I also strengthen with weights.

What Other Important Things Factor In To Becoming A Good/Better Polo Player?
The most important factor in playing good Polo is being able to ride the horse well. This takes many years in the saddle if you did not grow up riding horses. The other important factor is anticipation. This is the same as in surgery. The good surgeon spends five hours in preparation for a five-minute surgery. The same is true of Polo. The bad surgeon spends five minutes in preparation and then spends five hours in surgery.

How Does This Help You Be A Better Doctor/Person?
Polo gives one a fantastic endorphin release with the bond you have with your horse and the drive to be as good as you can be. In polo, as an amateur, you play with professionals and to get better you have to practice and use your brain realizing that there are some plays you will never make, but you keep on trying. Surgery is the same–you cannot solve every problem to perfection but you try. You are always dissatisfied with problems you cannot solve perfectly but you keep looking for a better way. And, as mentioned previously, to play Polo well you have to be physically and mentally fit and agile. To run a successful practice I have to apply the same focus, and be rested and ready to perform surgery to the best of my abilities.

It’s a celebrity sport. Are There Any Famous People That Play At The Santa Barbara Polo Club?
Sylvester Stallone played at our club for a short time but the liability from the injuries he might sustain I think made him give it up. In the 30’s and 40’s there were a large number of Hollywood elite playing–Spencer Tracy, Walt Disney, Darryl Zanuck, etc. Today the most famous player is Nacho Figueras – the Ralph Lauren model/polo player. He has played twice in the last few years at our club. I was fortunate to be able to play with him 3 years ago. He was a good polo player and nice human being, not just a handsome model.

How Many Polo Horses Do You Have?
Currently, I have 8 Polo horses. All are thoroughbreds. They have the speed and endurance needed for Polo. The ages range from 5 years of age to 18 or 19 years of age. The majority I bred from a mare that I have. She came off the racetrack. I have 4 playing Polo ponies from her. Another I bred from another mare. Then I have 2 other horses from Argentina, and one from New Zealand. I love the joy of turning a baby foal into a fine Polo horse and I have been quite lucky.

Do You Play With Other Doctors Or Played “Doctor” On The Field? 
There are no other doctors playing at our club. I have sutured and treated more than one hundred players, one of which was a close friend who died from a fall. I had to give him CPR using mouth to mouth respiration until the paramedical team arrived. I have treated a variety of injuries on the field such as broken arms, legs, cheeks, noses and lacerations, as well as concussions. I always have my Doctor’s Bag on hand.

Did The Endurance Of Being A Doctor Carry Over To Polo?
The endurance of training to be a surgeon definitely carries over into what you need to perform as a good polo player, especially as I did not ride until I was 40. I never thought then that I would get to where I am now as a long time player.

What Was The Latest WIN You Experience On The Polo Field?
The trophy that my team won recently was the Santa Barbara Polo Trophy. I am still competitive but I enjoy the game and the horses — if I win good — but that is just frosting on a great cake!

Dr. Toby Mayer and grandchild Riley.
Dr. Toby Mayer and grandson Riley

To learn more about Dr. Toby Mayer and the Beverly Hills Institute of Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery visit www.bevhills.com.


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