July 18th, 2012
I love what I do.
I think that I may have one of the coolest professions on the planet... take a look into a day in my (work) life and perhaps you will see why.
From a plastic surgery standpoint, my practice is unique, and that's exactly the way I want it. Yes, I do cosmetic surgery, and I really enjoy it. I enjoy having the ability to change someone's appearance for the better - whether it's a breast augmentation, a facelift, or a mommy makeover. It's "happy surgery", for both the patient and the surgeon. What most people don't know, though, is that there is SO much more to plastic surgery than just cosmetic surgery. It's this SO MUCH MORE that I want people to know about.
When I'm in the office, no two patient visits are alike. Here is an example from a recent day:
A 6 week old returned with his mother, and I removed molding devices from his ears (see the EarWell page). The ears are now totally normal looking. The child will probably never know the difference, but avoided either having to have surgery later in life (which is expensive) or having to go through life being teased about his ears. It felt good to see mom happy, and to see the child's ears looking much better than when I'd seen them the first time.
Next, I saw an older gentleman whose esophagus (the muscular tube that connects your mouth to your stomach) I reconstructed with a tissue transplant from his thigh a few weeks before. This was, by far, the highlight of my day... perhaps my week. I removed a plastic drainage tube from his throat and watched as he took the first drink of water he'd had in over 6 months. The look on his face as he swallowed that small mouthful of water made the 13-hour surgery well worth it.
Then, it was on to check on a young woman who came in for a follow-up visit after having a breast augmentation. She looked great, felt great, and had "it". That "it" is the unspoken look of confidence that you can see on a woman's face after they've had their breasts enhanced. Sure, I've poked fun at the recent study about the psychological well being in women after breast augmentation. However, it's very real, and it's extremely gratifying to be able to give that to someone, because it's something that will be with her for a long time.
After that, a woman with breast cancer came in to discuss her options for reconstruction after having the cancerous breast removed. She was good candidate for microsurgical breast reconstruction with a DIEP flap, and we spent lots of time discussing the ins and outs of tissue transplant - another long, meticulous surgery that is incredibly gratifying for everyone involved.
The rest of the day was spent with a few new patients - all of whom had lost massive amounts of weight and wanted to excess skin removed. There was lots of question and answer about which procedures were right for them and what sequence of procedures we'd use. I hope I was able to provide them with good answers and information to help make their decision to undergo more (and very extensive) surgery easier to make.
After I was finished in the office, I sat down to go over 3D images of another patient's facial skeleton that another plastic surgeon had asked me to see. He had been in a motorcycle crash a few years ago, and his cheekbone and eye-socket were not replaced in the correct position. Consequently, his face is asymmetric and he can't fully close one eye. To fix it, I'm going to have to cut and reposition the bones of his face, and use bone from his skull to fill in the gaps. Using CAD/CAM - the same program that engineers use to build buildings - I can do the surgery on the computer and create an acrylic model of what the skeleton will look like after the bones have been repositioned. This allows me to bend the metal plates used to hold the bones together in the proper orientation before I'm in the operating room. Needless to say, this not only saves time, but makes the surgery much more precise. And, since this patient has been through a lot already, I want this to be the last surgery he'll need.
I doubt that stories like these will ever make the news, although they make for much better "reality TV" than most of the junk that's out there now (Sorry, Honey... but the Bachelorette falls into this category, too).
This should give you some insight into what I do, day-in and day-out. Sure, I left out some of the routine stuff (meetings, lots and lots of paperwork, hospital rounds, etc), but I think you got a good snapshot of what a normal day in my Knoxville Plastic Surgery office is like. Really, cosmetic surgery isn't the only "happy" surgery out there; everything I do is "happy" surgery. And that's why I love it.
And... as always, you can visit my Facebook page (Jason Hall, M.D.) and ask questions or discuss any topic - plastic surgery or otherwise.