By Amy Dileo
Many say plastic surgeons are the artists of the medical field. But Jacksonville, Fla, plastic surgeon Lewis J. Obi, MD, has taken that idea a step further. A love of art has earned this board-certified plastic surgeon a nonmedical acronym after his name. Obi is a FRSA, Fellow of the Royal Society of Art, London, the oldest and most prestigious art guild in the world.
Obi’s affinity for artistry began before he discovered medicine. He calls himself a frustrated artist and architect at heart. But in his practice and in his life, he has found a way to meld together art and medicine in a unique way. Obi personally designed his 12,000-square-foot licensed surgery center, which also houses what he calls, “one of the finest art collections in a plastic surgeon’s facility.”
He spends a lot of time in the Samuel Wells Surgicenter—perfecting techniques in laser lipolysis, stem cell fat transfer, and his “LJO Brow Lift,” a procedure he created more than 3 decades ago. Today, a quarter of his patients come in for reconstructive procedures like facial deformities, breast reconstruction after breast cancer surgery, and corrective procedures after skin cancer surgery. But the bulk of his practice, 75%, consists of cosmetic cases, mostly on the face, breast, and body.
SlimLipo™, by Palomar Medical Technologies Inc, Burlington, Mass, is a laser-assisted lipolysis system for body contouring. Obi says he has “completed treatment on 500 patients in more than 2,500 anatomical zones in the past 4 years” with this new technology. Obi also conducts presentations on SlimLipo™, lecturing at advanced symposia and meetings internationally, as well as through preceptorships at his clinic. Recently, Obi has been conducting clinical studies for Palomar. Since May, he has conducted three major research projects in an effort to create and test applications for a new laser platform.
|The Lewis Obi Plastic Surgery Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla.|
In 2010, Palomar provided Obi with the first FDA-cleared Adivive™ fat transfer unit in the US, and he has already treated 100 patients with it. According to the company Web site, Adivive™ uses “a unique filtering mechanism and optimized centrifugation to yield a higher quality of adipose tissue for re-injection.” Obi says the technology is identical to Lipokit™, which was developed by the South Korean company Medikan International. Obi adds that he prefers the technology to other fat transfer systems. “Adivive™ is a totally enclosed system, from the time of infusion to fat harvesting to processing, and on to delivery of the purified fat graft. The end product results in a better take and durability than other techniques,” Obi explains.
“I have continued to improve on this technique,” Obi adds, “with embellishments, including the addition of platelet-rich plasma (PRP).” He states that the added benefits of the platelets and growth factors minimize bruising and lubricate the thick processed fat so it may be delivered through smaller cannulas. “The ‘OPERA Lift’ (Obi Palomar External Rejuvenation Aesthetics) is a proprietary innovation I introduced last year and have presented this concept at six symposia since 2011.” “OPERA Lift Major” and “Minor” are both nonsurgical facelift procedures with large-volume stem cell-rich fat grafting to the face. He explains that the major suffix includes SlimLipo™ laser neck tightening, and both techniques are performed under local anesthesia
The “OPERA Lift Plus” integrates this nonsurgical approach with traditional surgical facelifts, Obi explains. “A typical combination in this category would include the LJO brow lift, blepharoplasty, Adivive™ fat grafting, and SlimLipo™ neck tightening, generally performed in under 3 hours,” he explains. During the OPERA Lift Plus, Obi explains, “I add half of the PRP to the fat graft, and the other half I spray into the face prior to closing. The PRP significantly reduces bruising and swelling with the patient presentable within 7 days.”
In the past 2 years, Obi says he has treated some 100 patients in all areas of the body with Adivive™, concentrating mostly on the face and breasts. He is also writing a book chapter on his techniques for a publication titled Stem Cells with Fat Transfer in Aesthetic Procedures: Science, Art, and Clinical Techniques. The book is being written with some 20 other well-known plastic surgeons.
Obi’s signature “LJO Brow Lift” is a procedure he describes as “truly unique from all of the traditional brow lifting procedures.” The major difference, he says, is in terms of simplicity, efficiency, and safety. Obi performs this procedure in less than 10 minutes per brow, and “it does not distort the brow and rarely leaves any visible scars.” Obi says he has performed this procedure on some 3,000 patients since 1981. Although this technique remains unpublished, it has been presented at numerous meetings and shared with hundreds of plastic surgeons. He plans to formally submit his technique for publication sometime this year.
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From Military to Surgery
Obi’s career has spanned several decades, including service in the US Marines and Navy. He was a high school dropout who enlisted in the US Marines at age 16 and became one of the youngest Marine sergeants. After his discharge from the Marine Corps, Obi became a licensed pharmacist, attended medical school, and then served in the US Navy during the Vietnam War. He then completed residencies in general surgery, hand surgery, and plastic surgery before becoming an accomplished plastic surgeon.
In-between all of these achievements, Obi has found time to establish the art firm Obiarts Inc, which owns the international copyright for British artist Daniel Samuels’ paintings. After repeated visits to England over the course of 5 years, Obi published a portfolio of lithographs, Olympians, Gods and Heroes, in 1986. For his work, he was inducted as Fellow of the Royal Society of Art, London. For the London Olympics this past summer, Obi created danielsamuels.com, a Web site that profiles the artist’s works.
Acknowledging that the field of plastic surgery is not what it was when he started, Obi explains, “Plastic surgeons have to train for 15 or more years, enter practice with enormous debt, and have difficulty surviving in private practice. They are overtrained and under-rewarded elites in the medical profession, not to mention that we are competing with all of the other doctors who perform plastic surgery procedures.”
But Obi reflects, “I am proud to be addressed as a board-certified plastic surgeon, and if I was 18 years old today, I would again choose to become a plastic surgeon.”
Lewis J. Obi, MD
3599 University Blvd S, Suite 604
Jacksonville, Fla 32216