Photo Credit: lookandfeelbetter.com
When his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, Winter Park, Florida-based plastic surgeon Jeffrey Hartog’s work using fat to reconstruct the breast took on a deeply personal meaning. He’d always specialized in fat grafting for facial and cosmetic breast procedures, but his wife’s diagnosis encouraged him to learn all he could about the role fat grafting can play in breast reconstruction. He attended seminars and other training events taught by global leaders in this technique, and now Hartog is considered one of the pioneers in this procedure especially when used as a means to salvage breast reconstruction failures or treat complications from other techniques.
Beauty in the Bag sat down with Hartog, the director of the Bougainvillea Clinique in Winter Park, to learn more about his practice, the interesting path his career has taken as well as whether or not there really is a such thing as scarless breast surgery.
What are Winter Park, Florida residents looking for today in cosmetic surgery?
Those in the area are looking for an expert in their backyard. They are also looking for convenience, which I am able to provide with a fully certified ambulatory surgery center. I don’t just see patients from the greater Orlando area; being located near Orlando is great because it is huge for medical tourism. We see patients who have a procedure, enjoy a vacation and easily explain away two weeks in Orlando to friends and family.
It’s rare to be dual board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. How did you choose this path?
When I moved to the Unites States as a dentist, I enrolled in the oral surgery program in Miami. With the help of my professor there, I then enrolled in medical school and subsequently moved on to general and plastic surgery. I felt that this gave me much more comprehensive training and confidence to embrace all aspects of aesthetic and reconstructive surgery.
What is your most requested or signature procedure?
My most requested procedures are breast procedures including breast augmentation and reconstruction. I specialize in fat grafting, or autologous fat transfer to the breast (AFT). We are one of the few centers nationwide dedicated to this procedure, particularly for reconstruction. I was always involved in fat grafting – early in my practice I started doing fat micrografting, mostly for facial procedures, and then fat transfer for breast augmentation. Then my wife, Michelle, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Through research and my previous work with fat transfer for breast augmentation we found that AFT was the most natural and desirable option. Since then I’ve attended seminars and other training events regularly to learn the first-class techniques and information that I now use in my practice, the Bougainvillea Clinique. I seek out some of the most elite plastic surgeons in the world, including Miami’s Dr. Roger Khouri and Italy’s Dr. Gino Rigotti, who has more than 15 years of experience utilizing the fat grafting technique, to train with and increase my knowledge base. With my training and experience I am now considered one of the foremost specialists in this field for regenerative cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.
Is scarless breast surgery really possible? If so, how?
Fat transfer procedures use only the patient’s own fat, removed with gentle liposuction and then grafted using only needles to distribute the fat through the tissues when building a breast. As a result, these techniques are virtually scarless except for the tiny marks from the liposuction and injection needles. In many cases, fat transfer can replace other procedures that leave scars such as those involving breast implants and tissue flaps for reconstruction. Additional techniques such as scarless breast lifts have also been developed to supplement fat transfer. Of course, there are still situations where traditional techniques are still appropriate.
What role do yoga and Pilates play in your practice?
We want to give women a full and inclusive experience from cosmetic procedures to surgery at the adjacent Aesthetic Surgery Center of Winter Park to spa services, yoga and Pilates. Yoga and Pilates are part of improving overall health and feeling relaxed and invigorated. Michelle runs our yoga and Pilates programs.
You recently presented some exciting findings on fat grafting at an industry meeting. What can we say in 2014 about the role of fat grafting to the breast?
Fat grafting for breast reconstruction is growing in popularity, though it’s still less known than other reconstruction options. What I am finding in my practice is that fat transfer can often salvage reconstruction failures or complications from other techniques. This is particularly the case in the face of radiation treatment for breast cancer. The complication rate with other reconstruction techniques in the face of radiation is extremely high, and fat transfer is the method of choice for these women, either as the primary procedure or to salvage complications from other procedures. Fat grafting is also used to initiate immediate reconstruction for preemptive mastectomies for those women who test positive for BRCA 1 or 2, providing a completely natural reconstruction without the need for implants or complicated tissue flaps.