Michael Edwards, MD, FACS, is a board certified plastic surgeon who has an unmatched comprehensive understanding of the medical profession. Not only does he hold two board certifications—general surgery, in addition to plastic surgery—he was an RN before obtaining his medical degree,
He recently formed a new group practice in Las Vegas with plastic surgeons Dr. Goesel Anson and Dr. Terry Higgins, which offers a full range of facial and body procedures and treatments. Dr. Edwards specializes in breast revision surgery, a focus he feels very fortunate to address. Anson, Edwards, Higgins Plastic Surgery Associates also includes a board-certified dermatologist and a fully trained skincare team.
Here, Beauty in the Bag talks with Dr. Edwards, who is also President Elect of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), to get his tips for getting the results you seek from a surgeon.
Tell us a bit about your background. How did you come to choose plastic surgery as your specialty?
There aren’t many jobs in the medical field I have not worked at. This includes working as an EMT, ER technician, nursing assistant, and house orderly. I then became a registered nurse not knowing exactly what lay ahead. Thanks to a very understanding and supportive wife, I pursued medical school while working nights as an RN. Once in medical school I knew early on that I was bound to be a surgeon and really enjoyed the wide variety of surgical procedures the plastic surgeons were performing. I was hooked once I rotated in my fourth year of medical school. I decided to follow the more common general surgery route and completed five years of general surgery training and I still maintain my board certification. Plastic surgery was all I had hoped it would be. Our surgical cases are virtually head to foot with microsurgery, hand surgery, and incredible reconstructive techniques. I have never looked back and draw on my medical and surgical training almost daily as I care for my patients.
You recently joined a new group practice in Las Vegas. What is the group’s objective and what types of services/treatments does it provide?
I recently merged with Dr. Goesel Anson and Dr. Terry Higgins (Anson and Higgins). We have an 11,000 sq. foot office with three board-certified plastic surgeons, a board-certified dermatologist, two RN nurse injectors, four medical grade aestheticians, a highly organized and efficient practice manager, and a great staff of medical assistants, surgical technicians, and front desk personnel. We are able to provide our patients a complete range of state-of-the-art surgical and non-surgical procedures allowing each of the surgeons to focus on a specific area of expertise. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive approach where our patient’s experience, safety, and satisfaction come first. We are committed to coordinated, personalized aesthetic care for life, not just a single procedure.
What is your signature procedure?
Over the years I have been fortunate to focus my talents primarily on breast surgery, more specifically breast revision surgery. We, as plastic surgeons, all want our patients to be happy with their surgical results and we strive for that. Sometimes results don’t meet expectations as well our bodies go through changes from weight loss or gain as well as pregnancy. The breasts do change and sometimes benefit from revision. I would say my signature procedure is removing implants from above the muscle, placing new ones partially under the muscle for better coverage and prettier result, followed by a breast lift.
What is the best way to minimize scaring with a breast lift or augmentation?
With any surgical procedure there are incisions and scars. Our job, as plastic surgeons, is to plan and conduct our procedures with gentle tissue handling, tension free closure, and compulsive post-op wound care. I prefer topical silicone therapy for most of my healing incisions but on occasion there may be a need for local steroid injections or laser therapy.
Are there any new developments in surgical or non-surgical body contouring procedures that you find particularly promising?
There are always promises of new, wonderful modalities on the horizon. Unfortunately many of them fail to live up to their expectations. We, as plastic surgeons, try to look deeper at the science, to see if using evidence-based medicine, these are worth bringing into our practice. Surgical innovation is a great aspect of our specialty and we are willing to share our newly developed techniques with other board-certified plastic surgeons. Non-surgical devices are abundant and some appear to give better results in one set of hands than another. External body contouring techniques using freezing, radiofrequency, or ultrasound are promising for the right patient. They are not a means of weight loss but body contouring.
What questions should a prospective patient always ask their plastic surgeon during a consultation?
1. Are they a board-certified/eligible plastic surgeon?
2. Do they have hospital admitting privileges to perform the same procedure they are proposing to perform in an out-patient setting?
3. What are the potential risks/benefits/alternatives to the proposed procedure(s)?
4. How much experience do they have in the procedure you are seeking?
I could go on and on….
Dr. Allen Rosen, MD, is a board certified plastic surgeon who knows that patients receive the best surgical results when they have a good rapport with their surgeon and can clearly and comfortably explain what they want to change. The founding partner and medical director of the Plastic Surgery Group in Montclair, NY, advises that a surgical consultation is not the time to be shy.
As the founding partner and medical director of Plastic Surgery Group in Montclair, New Jersey, Dr. Rosen runs a practice that provides facial and body services. He is a sought after specialist in breast reconstruction and cosmetic surgery, as well as a spokesperson for the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons. Here he discusses surgical trends and issues with Beauty in the Bag.
Tell us a bit about your background. How did you come to choose plastic surgery as your specialty?
Born and raised on Long Island, I had a passion and a dream of becoming a physician and developed an interest in surgery in medical school while in Buffalo. More specifically, surgeons, who were required to do meticulous detailed procedures inspired me.
I explored opportunities in microsurgery, neurosurgery, and pediatric surgery, and then during my second year as a general surgery resident at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in NYC, I met plastic surgery Department Chief, Dr.Norman Hugo. He was a bigger than life character, who ran his service like his brother (a five star general) and expected others to perform flawlessly. He encouraged me to join his team.
Our patient population included infants to nonagenarians and each one required a uniquely different and creative approach. All required attention to the finest detail. This was irresistible to me.
What is your signature surgery/procedure/product/service?
After I finished training, I quickly gained a specialty interest in breast reconstruction. This led me, of course, to cosmetic surgery of the breast and to this day, I am typecast in this role as a guru in cosmetic and reconstructive breast surgery.
Facelifts, eyelids, rhinoplasty, and abdominoplasty are additional favorites of mine and I attract patients who are seeking “best of breed” surgeons for these procedures in particular.
I perform all the other “bread and butter” plastic surgical techniques (Botox, fillers, liposuction), but I am sought after as a master surgeon more than for procedures that non-surgeons can easily perform.
I refer all lasers and energy based techniques to my partner and run an active Medispa with two aestheticians to round out and provide a full service.
Plastic surgeons must excel at both technique and aesthetics. What’s the best way for a surgeon to develop his/her aesthetic eye?
Unfortunately, I think you are born with an aesthetic eye in the same way a singer is born with a gift of a melodious voice. That being said, true impresarios need to hone their skills through training, education, and practice.
Plastic surgery is both an art and a science. We are craftsmen and inventors, two very different concepts.
In our field, it is critical for even the most gifted and talented surgeons to constantly refine, redefine, and evolve with new techniques and technologies or risk being obsolete with unfulfilled potential.
Who is a good candidate for liposuction?
Liposuction is like sculpting a clay model. Anyone with any irregular fatty contour or bulge can be anatomically improved. However, selecting a good surgical candidate is not based solely on anatomic criteria.
Lipoplasty is a mechanical process, but it cannot be used to solve non-mechanical problems, like depression, obesity, or to keep a spouse content. Patients who are motivated, make healthy lifestyle choices, and maintain proper diets, regularly exercise, don’t smoke, and are psychologically stable with realistic expectations do extremely well with liposuction.
I have sculpted patients who were incredibly thin and others who were overweight who met these parameters. The best patients are those with real aesthetic anatomic problems and the right “attitude.”
What about a tummy tuck?
Most women after pregnancy and completion of their childbearing years are good candidates. They usually have weak and protuberant abdomens and various degrees of excess skin and fat. Many also have poor quality stretch-marked skin as well. The only way to return that belly to pre pregnancy appearance is through surgery. Only the lucky few escape the ravages of pregnancy.
Post massive weight loss patients, men and women, are also good candidates, for the same reasons
What’s exciting in the anti-aging space right now? Anything noteworthy coming down the pipeline?
It is beyond the scope of this discussion to list all the exciting new antiaging technologies that are emerging. The most important I believe are stem cell technologies (invest in them now), and blood derived growth factors. Genetic and blood evaluation will help specifically tailor physician directed programs for better health and longevity.
Stem cells will help rebuild old or damaged tissues all over the body. Stem cells can now be placed in a 3D matrix in the shape of an organ, like your liver or heart, and actually create liver and heart tissue. (Organovo, Nasdaq, ONVO)
Just beware of junk science and snake oil salesmen who are trying to capitalize on this new field of medicine with unproven claims and products. Wait for real scientists and physicians to bring these new techniques to market.
Do you have any tips for patients to improve communication with their surgeon? What should they ask their doctor and how can they best explain what they want?
This is the simplest question yet. The best way is like Nike advertises, “Just Do It.”
Talk to your surgeon like you would to a friend. Explain what bothers you, why and for how long it has been on your mind. Be direct and don’t’ be afraid to ask anything you want. If you can’t get this type of rapport going with a surgeon, go elsewhere.
Bring pictures to show what you like in others or what you looked like in years gone by. The surgeon cannot recreate that, but it will help him/her understand in images what you may not be able to explain in words.
Bring a friend or significant other to the consult to be a second set of eyes and ears. They may help you feel more comfortable and enjoy sharing the experience.
You are putting your precious body in the hands of a trained professional to help you look and feel better about yourself, this is not the time to be shy!
Tampa, Fl-based facial plastic surgeon Edward H. Farrior, MD, FACS, recently took over as the president of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS), the world’s largest specialty association for facial plastic surgery. This is always a big job, but this year marks the Academy’s 50th anniversary, which means even more fanfare and planning than usual.
Farrior is up for the challenge. He spoke to Beauty in the Bag about his goals for his term in office, his facial plastic surgery practice and the state of facial plastic surgery today.
What do you hope to accomplish during your one-year term as president?
I want to conclude our quest for recognition of our fellowship training by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, an organization that certifies training programs. The Academy has many excellent fellowships for facial plastic surgeons, but this would provide a different path for interested parties.
I also want to create more state plastic surgery societies. Most of the big states have such societies, but a lot of the smaller states do not. For these smaller states, multi-state societies may be an option. State societies help promote patient education and political advocacy. For example, many have been very influential in helping to assure that only qualified individuals perform cosmetic surgery in their states.
I plan to energize the FACE TO FACE: The Domestic Violence Project from the AAFPRS by contacting more shelters. In 1994, the AAFPRS teamed up with the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence to develop the program that has helped 2,500 domestic abuse survivors. Through this program, facial plastic surgeons provide pro bono reconstructive facial surgeries to women who have been badly injured. Another academy program, Faces of Honor, helps veterans, returning from deployment, gain access to facial reconstruction surgery. Most veterans have access to superb Veterans Affair’s health care. Most of the VA Hospitals have facial plastic surgeons on staff, but there are some veterans who return to smaller towns or communities who can’t commute or don’t want to commute to bigger facilities. I also plan to strengthen this program.
What is your signature surgery?
Rhinoplasty, primarily revision rhinoplasty.
That’s pretty complicated stuff, correct?
Yes, once someone has his or her nose operated on the anatomy can become extremely distorted making the procedure much more complex. You have to think on your feet and be creative in the moment. The more experience the surgeon has the better you are at revision rhinoplasty.
How did you get started in this field?
My father Richard Farrior, MD, now 88, was a premier rhinoplasty surgeon in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. He was my role model and inspired me to follow in his footsteps.
Do you ever run tough cases by him?
Yes, every now and then I will.
Do you have children, and will they follow in your path?
I hope so. I have a son and two daughters. My son is a law student, my oldest daughter has a master’s in teaching and is teaching middle school math, and one of my daughters is a pre-med student. She was going to go to veterinary school, but switched to pre-med. I have my fingers crossed.
Why do you love what you do?
I love the technical aspect. It is is almost like composing or sculpting, and to be creative with living tissue takes a great deal of focus. It’s also one of the few specialties in medicine where doctors and patients can develop relationships. This communication is really paramount. With elective procedures, it is imperative for us to educate and empower patients to make the right decisions and to get to know their lifestyles, their family, and their goals. We don’t have the pressure of having to see five or more patients every hour so we can really build a personal relationship.
What, in your opinion, will be the next big thing in facial plastics?
A reversible permanent filler that you can undo if there is a problem. Facial implants are great, but it takes a surgical intervention. They also come in a variety of sizes but not enough of a selection to fit every facial and skeletal contour. Injectables are nice in that you can customize them and there is no downtime.
What is your tried-and-true anti aging advice?
If you keep skin hydrated and protected from the sun you will need fewer interventions.
The AAFPRS just put out a survey showing that 50 is the new 30. Do women today really feel and look younger than their chronological age?
Absolutely. Today, women in their 40s and 50s are more confident and beautiful than ever before. They have the life experience and knowledge to look as great as they feel. And with the growing number of minimally invasive and nonsurgical options, they are able to maintain their youthful appearance for longer.