What got Breazeale started, surgically? At 10 years, he went into the hospital for an appendectomy.
Edward Breazeale, MD’s journey to owning a plastic surgery clinic reads like a hero’s journey of classical literature. It starts off with a chance happening that appears to be tragic, setting him on a road on which, looking back, one can see destiny had set up for him all along.
“I grew up in a small town called Oak Ridge, Tenn. It’s where all the nuclear facilities are. We’re famous for the Manhattan Project. An interesting place to grow up, needless to say,” Breazeale says. “It’s a small town of about 30,000 people. I think I was the beneficiary of a really excellent public school system, which is unusual, obviously. There are not too many great public school systems around, but Oak Ridge had a great one. I think that’s because of all the scientists that were around.
What got Breazeale started, surgically? “I was 10 years old and had an appendectomy,” he laughs. “I thought that was pretty neat that someone could make you feel better after a 1-hour surgery, and that kind of got me interested.”
Breazeale comes from a family that consisted of seven siblings from his mother and three from his father—not to mention lots of cousins. And no one in the entire family had ever gone into the medical field.
“I always had an interest in math and science anyway, so it was a natural progression for me,” he says, adding that he later had the good fortune of being mentored by “one of the godfathers of cosmetic procedures,” Luis Vasconez, MD, of the University of Alabama (UAB) School of Medicine in Birmingham. “I think that if I had to pin my passion and my desire for really excellent results, I think I would put that at the feet of Dr Vasconez, because the kind of guy he was, he wanted us to be as good as we could be in all ways,” Breazeale says.
While at the university, Breazeale met another person who would change his life forever. “When I met my wife,” he says, “I was doing my general surgery training at UAB. She’s a physical therapist, so she took her first job there at the university hospital. I just happened to notice her one day on the floor, kind of a chance meeting.”
What followed was a long-lasting marriage, two beautiful and sports-oriented children, and a plastic surgery clinic near his hometown. “As soon as I finished my plastic surgery training, I decided that where I grew up wasn’t a bad place. It’s a beautiful area, and I wanted to come back home. So, I hung up my shingle, took a big risk, and decided to do it on my own.”
He started his practice in 1997. “I’m probably not the right guy to be in a big group practice,” he says. “I entertained all those thoughts that you do when you’re just looking for a job, to see if there’s anything out there that you might like. I came to the conclusion very quickly that I think I could do it pretty well on my own. I wasn’t a rich kid, so I had to go to the bank and, as I like to call it, I dug it out of the dirt and, I made it into something.”
Today, the Breazeale Clinic serves the greater Knoxville metropolitan area, also drawing patients from neighboring states of Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina. However, the vast majority of their clients are within a few-hundred-mile radius.
The practice’s clientele consists of a wide age spectrum, from 21 to 71 years, though within that group Breazeale points out distinct divisions. The majority are first-time clients, and word of mouth is 50% to 60% of the practice, he notes.
“There’s the younger crowd who, for their face, initially want noninvasive things done—Botox or one of the different injectables,” he says. “Then, maybe they weren’t born with the breast size that they wanted so there’s interest in breast augmentation. There are a lot of lakes around here, so outdoor life is a big portion of everybody’s world, and they want to look as nice as they can in their swimsuit.
“We have a fair amount of so-called mommy makeovers—the 35-to-45-year-old group, who might want a tummy tuck and some breast surgery combined.” With the older crowd, he adds, “You’re looking at the ladies who might want something more surgical with regard to the face.”
Breazeale boasts about his “excellent staff. My core people have been with me the whole time,” he says. “We’re into our fourteenth year now and it’s been this kind of a journey for them, as well. I think what’s neat is they feel like they have some ownership over the practice too, which is good. When the employees feel like they’re included and they’re needed, that’s a big deal for success.”
Based on the number of cases that are performed, breast surgery is probably the number one procedure performed at The Breazeale Clinic. “I do between 300 and 350 breast augmentations a year and a lot of breast lifts and reductions as well,” he says. “We also do a large number of facelifts, eyebrow lifts, etc.”
Just a Country Boy at Heart
Does Breazeale indulge in any hobbies? “I have a little bit of a country boy in me, so when I get a chance I love to fish,” he says. “I like to get out in nature. I don’t really care if I catch a fish, and I don’t care if I shoot a bird. It’s just being out there and being away from the city and enjoying the countryside, or the lake, or the mountains, or whatever it may be.”
In addition, the Breazeales keep busy with the three or four charities they like to help out, with the majority of their money going to Catholic charities.
For all the good fortune destiny has shown Breazeale, he has not forgotten his small-town roots. Both of his grandfathers were Tennessee coal miners. “I’ve had the good fortune of living the American dream,” he notes. “I figure if those guys could work underground and literally risk their lives every day, then being above ground and doing some plastic surgery is pretty simple in comparison. I’ve had an easier path than they did, so I try to honor both of my grandfathers a little bit by working very hard.”
Sarah Russel is a contributing writer for PSP. She can be reached at [email protected]