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!