Photo Credit: aafprs.org
Even the balmy weather and threats of storms didn’t detract from the excitement as facial plastic surgeon Stephen S. Park, MD, became the new President of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) at the group’s annual Fall meeting in Orlando, Florida.
Representing more than 2,700 facial plastic and reconstructive surgeons throughout the world, the AAFPRS is the world’s largest specialty association for facial plastic surgery. In addition to taking the helm of the AAFPRS for a one-year term, Park remains the director of the Division of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville.
Despite a full dance card at the meeting, Park sat down with Beauty in the Bag to discuss his practice, the direction the specialty is heading, as well as what he believes are the three things that can help put the brakes on aging.
Here’s what we found out:
Tell us about your practice.
It’s about 50% reconstructive including correcting congenital deformities such as microtia, a condition where the external ear is underdeveloped. The rest is aesthetic and includes aging face surgery, facelift, and rhinoplasties. My biggest niche, however, is nasal reconstruction, often following trauma or skin cancer.
How does reconstructive facial plastic surgery differ from cosmetic facial plastic surgery?
The lines are becoming blurred and that’s a good thing for patients. For many years, aesthetic surgery was one bucket and reconstructive surgery was another. As such, surgeons put a focus and expectation into the procedure according to which bucket it was in. The thought was ‘at least your cancer is gone, you can live with the deformity.’ Now, however, the two disciplines or approaches have blended. Skin cancer reconstruction has changed based upon what we know about aesthetics. Cosmetic rhinoplasty too is intimately related to functional nasal surgery. We are pulling tricks and nuances from our aesthetic practices into our reconstructive cases and producing a more cosmetically pleasing outcome after reconstructive surgery.
One of the Academy’s main messages to patients has been to ‘trust your face to a facial plastic surgeon’ because these are the experts who are most qualified. Are today’s patients heeding this call?
I very much think this message is resonating. Today’s patients are so unbelievably sophisticated largely because of technology and social media. They can do a lot of homework before they ever meet you and are making more informed choices about surgeons and procedures. The result is that patients are now asking us the hard questions during consultations.
What doe the future of facial plastic surgery look like to you?
Stem cells and tissue engineering will be big. I genuinely believe that in the lifetime of our younger members, so much of what we do and use today in facial plastic surgery will become obsolete. The big nasal reconstructions will be of historical interest only. In the future, a bright engineer will figure a way to use stem cells from a person and seed a perfect, biodegradable, 3-dimenional scaffold and grow a new nose. It may be first grown in an incubator and later implanted into the patient. Once that gets going, we will also begin to use stem cells mixed with growth factors to make new collagen for more youthful skin. We are on the cusp of a revolution.
Is 50 really the new 30 and if so, what does 50 look like in 2014?
I’m 52 and don’t feel old at all. I am shocked at how youthful and energetic so many people can be today.
What is their secret or yours?
In addition to the obvious, such as not smoking, the three things that make a huge difference are: regular exercise, hydration and moisturization. They say eight cups of water a day, but it is really as much as you can drink throughout our crazy days. I always recommend moisturizers to all patients and a sun block with at an sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.