Rick Manzano and Suzanne Quardt are a true power couple in every sense of the title. They recently celebrated their 10th wedding Anniversary on Nov. 17.
Suzanne, 48, was born in New York City and was a foster child there until the age of 2 1/2 years old when her parents adopted her and moved to Parsippany, New Jersey. “We spent many summer vacations at the Jersey Shore and I have so many fond memories there,” shared Suzanne.
Rick, 53, was born and raised in the Sunset District of San Francisco. The couple met in LA in a local bar in Santa Monica called “MaKai” on Ocean Blvd. “It was a fun little restaurant that would turn into a small nightclub after dinner. We often joke how we met the ‘old-fashioned way’- in a bar,” laughed Suzanne.
The couple suffered many years with infertility issues due to Suzanne’s severe endometriosis, which required several surgeries. “Fortunately, we were able to successfully conceive our dear daughter, Isabella Maria, born May 19, 2017, through embryo transfer via surrogate. Baby Bella as we call her, is our very biggest blessing in life and is the joy of our lives! We just adore being parents to this sweet and healthy little girl! We waited a very long time for her and she is perfection personified!” shared the proud mother.
Suzanne is one of the top Plastic Surgeons in the desert. She became a doctor and received her MD back in 1996 at the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey. “I was accepted into the University of Southern California- LA County / USC Medical Center as a categorical General Surgery Resident, so I moved from New Jersey to Pasadena in Los Angeles in 1996. At the time, I desired to become a Cardiothoracic Surgeon and had gotten one of my letters of recommendation from the now very famous, Dr. Oz, from Columbia University where I had performed a Sub-Internship, and I do believe this truly helped me gain acceptance not only into General Surgery Residency, but also into my 2-year Cardiothoracic Research Fellowship position that I performed from 1999 until 2001under Dr. Vaughn Starnes and Dr. Mark Barr at USC. I loved all my cardiothoracic training and the surgical skills necessary to perform these complex operations including heart and lung transplantation. However, it was ironically also during these same research years that I also realized that I was truly more suited towards Plastic Surgery.
“Prior to my research fellowship training, I had many months of rotation on the Plastic Surgery service at USC and met many outstanding mentors during this time that helped shape my decision to pursue plastic surgery. I learned very complex operations including microsurgery where we were able to transfer tissues from anywhere on the body, and also perform nerve as well as vessel transplants to cover any part of the human body requiring reconstruction. I was fascinated! And the Plastic Surgeons were also the most technically-gifted surgeons I had ever seen. Besides their amazing daily surgical prowess, the plastic surgeons also seemed very down-to-earth and also well-rounded where they were fully committed to their profession, however they also led rather balanced lives with loving families, passionate hobbies that they continued to enjoy, as well as a healthy lifestyle; all these things were most appealing to me especially since I desired to have a family of my own one day. I did not desire to be a surgeon who was ‘never home’ and Plastic Surgery could afford me the opportunity for a fulfilling career, however also allow me to have some control over my operating hours and overall schedule. I was fortunate enough to be accepted into the Plastic Surgery Residency at USC in 2001.I completed 3 years of General Surgery Residency, 2 years of Cardiothoracic Research Fellowship with publications, 3 years of Plastic Surgery Residency, then 2 post-surgical Fellowships- one in complex reconstructive surgery in spinal cord injury patients, then one in Aesthetic Surgery in Marina del Rey.”
She spent about a total of 10 years in LA and met Rick during the last year of her training there. “After Rick and I met… we essentially spent every day together from then on and lived together in Marina del Rey, where we got engaged on the beach there in 2004,” shared Suzanne.
“In 2006, I received a job offer to work in Rancho Mirage. Rick had a medical Dermatology meeting at the Esmeralda Hotel one weekend and told me to just come out with him for the meeting, relax at the hotel and go check out the office. I immediately fell in love with the Coachella Valley. It was so clean, beautiful and warm… like a true desert paradise! Now keep in mind I had grown up in New Jersey where the winters are long and brutal so even in the 120 degree heat of summer here I will NEVER complain because it sure beats snow… and you don’t have to shovel sunshine!”
Suzanne accepted the position to work at a private practice in Rancho Mirage, however things did not ultimately work out. “I was young and naïve and didn’t sign any contract to protect myself, however I did love the area and desired to stay and try and build a practice here. Although we had discussed moving back to LA and setting up shop in Beverly Hills where I had other opportunities, Rick really knew how much I liked the Palm Springs area and he felt that I could be a ‘big fish in a small pond’ here rather than a ‘small fish in a big pond’ in LA. We decided to stay here and stick it out together. I truly could not have done all of this without Rick’s constant encouragement, support and belief in me,” shared Suzanne.
Suzanne received her Surgical Staff privileges at Eisenhower Medical Center and became the Chief of Plastic Surgery from 2009 to 2011. She also worked part-time as a Staff Surgeon at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center commuting to Downey performing complex reconstructive surgeries on spinal-cord injury patients. “I started out performing both reconstructive surgeries for patients after breast cancer, skin cancers, melanoma resections and complex wounds. I became the Assistant Medical Director to Eisenhower’s Wound Care Center upon its opening. I performed reconstructive surgeries after complex Orthopedic procedures that required assistance for healing and wound-coverage. And during this time, I also performed cosmetic breast, body and facial procedures and built a very busy practice that is now about 98% Cosmetic in nature,” shared Suzanne.
Rick and Suzanne scouted out office space and found their current location in Rancho Mirage right off Hwy 111. Rick oversaw all aspects of the new office build-out as the space was a grey shell. “From there, we expanded rather rapidly and built my own, fully-accredited, AAAASF on-site Surgical Suite where I perform the majority of my surgeries now. After that, we expanded further and build the “Dr Q Medical Spa” that houses many of the latest and greatest aesthetic technologies available today as non-surgical options for my many patients. Many of our non-surgical procedures can also compliment certain surgical ones,” shared Suzanne. “I now operate 2 to 3 days a week and see as many patients as I can on the other days.”
Due to Rick’s background in medical marketing and management, he has served as her business partner, office manager and Chief Financial Officer of “Dr Q Plastic Surgery”. Many people think Rick works in her office, however he is only on site when necessary.
Rick has his own successful company, “Creative Take Medical” that specializes in website development, marketing and SEO internet services. “I started the company in 2010 after working for a large firm out of New York for 4 years,” shared Rick. Aside from managing his wife’s business, he has several of his own employees to manage. His office is off El Paseo and he even converted some of his large space into a daytime nursery area for Baby Bella to come stay during the day with their nanny.
Suzanne has received the national Castle Connelly’s “Top Doc” honor and award for the past 8 years in a row- a designation that is earned and voted on by peers and cannot be “bought” so to speak. She also was recently awarded the “Athena Award” by the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce for community leadership – the awards luncheon will be held this Friday, December 1st at the Renaissance Hotel and then she will be participating on a float in the City of Lights Parade in Palm Springs this Saturday evening, Dec 2nd.
Rick recently won in his class at the Lou Ferrigno Legacy Challenge. “I recently got involved in physique competition by accident. I was getting ready for the charity event Dancing with the Desert Stars, when my trainer suggested I try competing last year. I won last year and competed nationally last June at the NPC Universe. I placed 7th out of 14. Since we try to stay fit Suzanne is very supportive and understands the grind of dieting,” shared a very humble Rick.
The couple both concur that they enjoy spending so much time together. “Rick and I are partners. He is also my love and my best friend and the first person I want to talk to regarding any business or personal and social decisions. Rick is also an excellent chef… he prepares healthy yet amazingly delicious meals for us!” shared Suzanne. They have dinner together every night unless he is out of town. They also enjoy doing yoga together and taking Bella and their 3 pups out for walks.
Suzanne says the best part of working together is getting to work intimately with her best friend and confidant. “I cannot imagine not being able to just ‘pick up the phone’ and chat with Rick about something… or anything at any time. Friends of ours often joke how they have made poor business decisions because ‘they did not have a Rick in their life!’ I also enjoy that we get to travel to national Plastic Surgery Meetings together. I get to attend the meetings for continuing medical education credits, and Rick often works the meeting with a booth as a supporting business vendor. I often meet more colleagues through Rick than on my own and he has also introduced me to some of my very best female plastic surgeon friends.”
They are big supporters of “Desert AIDS Project” and “100 Women of DAP”. “For me, HIV has touched my family and I am certain that everyone knows someone afflicted with this terrible disease. My goal is to act locally and impact globally and whatever little I may do to help the lives of those suffering from HIV/AIDS and also help get people tested and treated… than I have done something. And of course… the ultimate goal is to help in the efforts to find a cure! We also support “Loving All Animals” where we were blessed to adopt 2 of our rescue puppies- TJ and Simon. We also support “Animal Samaritans” and Rick walked in their fundraiser and fashion show, “Handsome Hounds and Men” to raise funds. Both Rick and I have participated in the local event “Dancing with the Desert Stars”- all proceeds benefitting “100 Women”- and going to helping local women and children affected with HIV and AIDS,” shared Suzanne.
She has also served as a Co-Chair for the Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards Gala held each February to raise funds for DAP for the past 2 years. She has served as a mentor to young women interested in becoming physicians through “Women’s Leaders Forum”. They also support “Olive Crest,” “Shelter From the Storm,” “Safe-house of the Desert,” “Desert Cancer Foundation,” “American Cancer Society,” the “Endometriosis Foundation,” the “Parkinsons’ Foundation,” “Bighorn BAM,” “Gilda’s Club,” the “Steinway Society” and “Variety of the Desert” for children with disabilities.
Suzanne says that if she were to choose a different profession it would be a dancer. “I did co-found the Rutgers Performing Dance Club back in 1989 and won a few awards for hip-hop choreography! My dance idols are Janet Jackson and J-Lo! I also wanted to become a Concert Pianist and got to play at Carnegie Hall at age 13.” Rick says his alternate profession would be to ‘teach’.
Now that Suzanne need no longer work 24/7 she has the luxury of spending time watching Baby Bella grow up. “Each day I look at her with wonder and gratitude and say ‘you will never be this age again’ and I am so thankful to get to spend these precious and fleeting moments with her and her wonderful Dad!”
Rick says that a typical date night for them “can range from a pizza and movie with a huge bucket of popcorn to a great dinner with a good bottle of wine and a show. We love concerts and music festivals. Every month we leave the desert to see shows/concerts. We also love vacationing in Hawaii and recently enjoyed a cruise through Europe.”
“We enjoy going to a fine restaurant together- we are a bit of amateur “foodies” and enjoy dining on cuisine of Iron Chefs and James Beard awardees as well as Michelin Star-rated restaurants. We recently celebrated our 10-year anniversary evening at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA enjoying the LA Philharmonic perform Purcell, Bach and Pergoli. We also love country artists (Luke Bryan, Garth Brooks, Cole Swindell, Chris Young, Shania Twain) as well as the Stage Coach Festival each year, and pop-artists such as Janet Jackson, Bruno Mars, Pink and Lady Gaga,” shared Suzanne.
Suzanne says that Rick’s best traits are his honesty and business acumen. “Rick can oftentimes be ‘brutally honest’ but I certainly prefer that over false pretenses! I know he will always be honest with me and that is so important for a trusting relationship. He also has a wicked sense of humor and keeps me belly-laughing… something he has done from our very first date! He is also extremely stylish and a sharp dresser and also has picked out all my best dresses!”
What does this couple feel is the most important thing that keeps their relationship solid?
Suzanne: “Definitely mutual respect and trust- without these two elements… I don’t feel a relationship can survive. You have to know that you can always count on your partner and that they will always ‘have your back’ so to speak and never lie to you. I love that Rick always makes me want to be a better person and that is particularly important now as we become role models for our daughter.”
Rick: “I think how we are different… the ying and yang. We balance each other out.”