Reconstructive Surgery / Plastic Surgery has evolved quite a bit since the American Society of Plastic Surgeons was first founded in 1931. The field began when doctors/dentists were treating soldiers with facial deformities from WWI. Back then, trench warfare was the norm on the front lines of battle. If one was to stick his head up just a few inches too far above ground level, it was very easy to sustain an injury. Medics scrambled to repair jaws using prosthesis and grafts that would be very crude by today’s standards. Their goal was to enable their patients to breathe, speak and chew again, while literally pioneering the field of medical implants.
As time progressed it became apparent that the final aesthetic result, as well as functionality could be improved with surgery. After key advances scientifically, organizationally and politically, the American Medical Association recognized plastic surgery as an official specialty in 1941. The physicians involved at this point were, most often, dual degree doctors practicing both medicine and dentistry due to the heavy focus on the maxillofacial area. Today it is rare to find a surgeon with this strong of a background, but many of us have found that the extra experience has been invaluable in analyzing and reconstructing the face.
The reconstructive cases I see today are typically those trying to correct difficulties with speech, chewing, breathing or pain. The causes of difficulty can be a misaligned jaw, tissue that is improperly developed or any of a host of issues. Often the solution can involve repositioning the jaw. We make incisions inside the mouth for minimum visibility and cut through either part of or the entire jaw. It is then bolted in place after we have carefully considered where to place it. The procedure has advanced to the point that very little wiring is necessary. It is still, however, very complex and requires familiarity with the subtleties of how your jaw and teeth work together to perform everyday functions as well as consideration of aesthetic appearances. In many cases, the patient can open their mouth right after the surgery. As an added bonus the patient often gets a cosmetic benefit.
For men, strong jaw lines are desirable. If you were to imagine a line from the farthest point on the chin to the farthest point on the nose, the lips should not cross it. Studies have shown that people associate confidence and character with faces that fit this facial profile. I also sometimes point out, anecdotally, that 42 of the CEOs of the top 50 fortune 500 companies fit the description.
Women patients can also benefit cosmetically. In fact, one of our success stories was featured on ABC News
All in all, a combination of dental and medical background gives the surgeon a type of ‘super specialty’ when it comes to reconstructing the jaw and face and is great training with your hands. I would encourage anyone considering one of these procedures to consult with a dual degree doctor.
For more information on Dr. Antell, New York Plastic Surgeon, and Plastic Surgery in New York, visit the following links.