Stephen S. Park, MD, FACS, was recently sworn in as the new president of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS).
In practice, Dr Park, vice chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, performs a mix of facial aesthetic and reconstructive procedures. As such, he has a bird’s-eye view on the blurring of the lines between these two camps.
Plastic Surgery Practice sat down with Park to discuss his practice, his new role as president of AAFPRS, and how he plans to balance the two.
Here’s what he had to say:
1) You have stated that you hope to continue the mission of outgoing AAFPRS president and Tampa, Fla-based facial plastic surgeon Edward Farrior, MD, when it comes to developing the new fellowship program. Please explain.
I’d like to continue what he initiated: establishing a solid accreditation system for our fellowships, improving that system, beginning discussions with the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, and having them recognize our programs.
2) What are your other goals for this year?
Our major educational meetings are getting a lot of attention. We’re trying to think outside the box and come up with innovative, creative things that people will be drawn to. Examples would include a wider use of smartphones and simulation surgery. Our major meetings are getting a facelift!
3) It has been said that a presidency can eat into a practice and personal time. Are you prepared?
Absolutely. Everyone’s busy and a bit overwhelmed, and frankly, most of us thrive on it. The only difference is where everything’s stacked up in terms of priority. In other words, things related to this presidency have just been bumped up five notches, so I take care of them by the end of the day, at all costs.
4) What do you do in your spare time?
I’m active. I play basketball early morning, before work, at least three times a week. It sets my clock for the rest of the day. I run for release. I play golf if I want to get frustrated and pissed off—ha!
5) Do you think the lines between reconstructive and cosmetic surgery are blurring?
Yes. It’s no longer just about patching a hole or putting the bones back together. We also think about what the patient will fixate on 3 years down the road, such as their scar or facial symmetry. When performing routine reconstructive surgeries, I think now there’s an appropriate respect for the aesthetic aspect. This allows us to modify our techniques, such as placement of incisions and flaps.
The flip side is true as well. In the past, surgeons who focused purely on cosmetic procedures often neglected functional aspects, but now we’re bringing things we’ve learned in our reconstructive experience into our cosmetic practice.
6) Is there anything exciting going on with the Academy’s humanitarian programs?
Yes. Our Fall 2015 meeting will include military medicine—things that people have learned on the battlefield, and how that translates to civilian practice. This dovetails well with our Faces of Honor program, a domestic outreach program aimed at providing reconstructive services to our wounded veterans.
7) Why has the international Face-to-Face program, which provides care and education to underprivileged children around the world, been so successful?
In a word: education. It aims to teach the local physicians safe surgical techniques. We no longer go to some of the places we once did. This is not because the demand has dropped off. It’s because they’re running it themselves.
8) How do you see regenerative medicine affecting facial plastic surgery?
That is the hottest, sexiest frontier right now. It will make many of the things we do now obsolete. At first, people were just tinkering with it, but now we have major industry behind it, which means money and it means really bright people are working with it. A dozen new journals dedicated to this area have been launched in just the last 5 years—that’s the kind of enthusiasm there is.
It’s amazing what we can do with regenerative medicine. For example, for reconstructive surgery we can get some stem cells and a 3D printer, and grow tissue in a lab that came from the patient.
9) What technology could you not practice without?
The camera. I do all the filing of photos myself, and that process sucks me in. Cataloging postop pictures will inevitably lead to pulling up preop pictures and critiquing results, which can be humbling. Nothing keeps you as honest as the camera.
10) Where do you get your industry news?
I subscribe to nearly every facial plastic journal. And, of course, PSP is on my desk.
William Payton is a contributing writer for Plastic Surgery Practice magazine. He can be reached via PSPeditor@allied360.com.