MEET NEW JERSEY’S FACIAL REJUVENATOR
With offices in Highland Park and Princeton New Jersey, Dr. Mark Glasgold is a board certified plastic surgeon specializing in facial rejuvenation. He is part of the Glasgold Group, which includes his father Alvin and brother Robert, both plastic surgeons as well.
Dr. Glasgold graduated from Duke University and received his M.D. in 1994 from Thomas Jefferson Medical School. He completed a residency in head and neck surgery at Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the New York Hospital, and Cornell University, all in Manhattan. He did his fellowship in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery under the auspices of the American Academy of Facial and Plastic Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) in 1994. He joined The Glasgold Group in 1995.
Tell us a bit about your background. How did you choose plastic surgery as your specialty?
Growing up as the son of a plastic surgeon was a powerful influence, but it wasn’t the only factor that led me to pursue medicine and this specialty in particular. After I graduated from Duke University, I earned my M.D. from Thomas Jefferson Medical School in Philadelphia. But then I did something rather uncommon for someone with a new medical degree. I went on for a master’s in biomedical engineering, a technical profession that develops ways to use engineering and technology to improve medical outcomes. I did this at the same time that I was doing a residency in surgery. I’m a problem solver, so the opportunity to augment my clinical skills with engineering was very appealing. I subsequently did a fellowship in facial plastic surgery and also spent a year observing a variety of techniques performed by the best surgeons in the country. I found that facial plastic surgery offered continuous challenges requiring excellent problem-solving skills. No two faces are alike, so there are no identical cases. What works for one patient, does not necessarily work for another. I am always analyzing why some people, like celebrities, have that “done” look that deters people from seeking plastic surgery. It doesn’t have to be that way. I am always seeking the keys to a natural-looking rejuvenation and believe we will soon be able to quantify those keys, rather than relying on qualitative, often subjective observations. It will help us achieve the best results. This is the type of challenge that inspired me to pursue plastic surgery.
Please describe the procedures in which you specialize.
I specialize in facial rejuvenation, which includes such procedures as facelifts and necklifts, upper and lower eyelid surgery, autologous fat transfer and the use of injectables. These might sound like fairly common techniques, but we are doing them in a very unique way. I was one of the first facial plastic surgeons in the country to integrate the use of fat transfer with the modified deep-plane facelift. This technique is the basis of a textbook I co-wrote with my brother, “Complementary Fat Grafting.” It’s a more complex approach but delivers more natural, durable results than a facelift alone. This approach has its roots in what I call the “Blink aesthetic,” after Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Blink,” which described how training and intuition together help people make accurate, rapid judgments in complex situations. We all form an overall perception of a person’s age in an instant without necessarily understanding why. I take it further by analyzing the characteristics of the face that convey aging. It’s not the sum of wrinkles or sagging, necessarily, but rather the appearance of hollows that create shadows. Hollows result from a loss of volume. If you look at photos of a young person, you’ll see highlights, but look at photos of that same person taken 20 or 40 years later and the overall perception of aging usually comes from the loss of volume in critical areas, such as under the eyes and in the cheeks, that create shadows. By restoring volume and lifting strategically, we can achieve remarkable results.
What new developments in the field do you find particularly exciting?
The most exciting idea in plastic surgery right now is the use of autologous stem cell-enriched fat grafting, particularly for skin rejuvenation and breast reconstruction. “Autologous” means that the patient’s own fat and stem cells are used in the procedure. The Glasgold Group is one of the first practices in the United States to purchase a stem-source machine, which allows the harvest and preparation of stem and regenerative cells from the patient’s own fat tissue in about 90 minutes. According to Cytori Therapeutics, the company that produces this technology, autologous adult stem and regenerative cells are thought to promote healing of scarred or injured tissue. This is an important advance in regenerative medicine and I am very excited about the potential it holds for patients.
What key points should every potential plastic surgery patient discuss with their surgeon?
Every patient deserves to have a comprehensive discussion with her physician in plain English about what the proposed procedures will and will not accomplish. The patient-physician dialogue should cover potential risks and benefits, the doctor’s level of experience with the procedure and the results achieved with similar patients. When patients come in for an initial consultation for facial rejuvenation, I recommend they bring photos of themselves when they were younger. Together, we examine the photos and I help them see which areas have changed over the years to create the appearance of aging. Often, it’s not the same things they are seeing in the mirror. These discussions are important because they provide an opportunity for patients to understand the procedures in detail and make an informed decision. Patients usually come to our office after doing at least some research and even checking out other physicians. Or, they may have heard about various procedures from their friends. It’s important that they get their questions answered because there is a lot of information out there that may or may not be relevant to their own situation.
Is the recession still impacting the types of procedures that patients request?
Perhaps counter-intuitively, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in patients getting more expensive surgery since early last year, and this has continued to increase. I am finding that many patients feel that facial rejuvenation procedures will help them remain viable in their careers or in the job market. I have had patients in their 60s who opted for procedures such as facelifts or injectable fillers after being laid off because they knew they would be competing for jobs with much younger people. This is becoming a much more common story.
What are the challenges and advantages of working in a practice with family members?
Practicing with my brother, who does many of the same procedures that I do, provides someone in close proximity whom I trust and respect completely. We collaborate on approaches and we constantly bounce ideas off each other. It enables us to evolve as surgeons. Rather than causing challenges, it helps us meet them more effectively.
How do you maintain personal balance with a busy work schedule?
Work-life balance is not just important for me, it’s important for my patients. I limit the amount of time I practice to less than 40 hours per week so that I can avoid burnout – a common problem among physicians. My goal is not to do a huge number of cookie-cutter procedures that turn out just OK, but rather to do fewer procedures very well. I want to be able to devote enough time to each patient in order to evaluate them appropriately and achieve excellent results. By my choosing not to have a packed, burnout-inducing schedule, I think the patient stands to benefit. My wife is appreciative too.