Complex Plastic Surgery Cases

Plastic Surgery Division Tackles Toughest Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Cases

Say the words "plastic surgery" and most people immediately think of cosmetic procedures such as facelifts, breast augmentation or liposuction. But at University of Maryland Medical Center, a long list of far more complex — and perhaps unexpected — procedures also apply, from burn restoration to limb reconstruction to massive hernia repair and more.

In the 25 years since Sheri Slezak, MD, chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery, arrived at UMMC, the division staff has grown from three to 10 physicians, many working at several affiliate locations and involved in innovative clinical trials that set the program apart from others in the region and the rest of the nation.

"There's been a tremendous growth in plastic surgery … and plastic surgery in a teaching hospital like ours is almost all reconstructive," says Dr. Slezak, who is also a professor of surgery at University of Maryland School of Medicine. "We do a lot of tertiary procedures such as wounds, cancer resections, facial and limb fractures, head and neck reconstruction after cancer and burns. Plastic surgeons treat the skin and its contents, head to toe, male and female, from babies to the elderly."

10 Reconstructive Plastic Surgeons, Multiple Locations

Cosmetic surgery is, of course, part of the extensive offerings of the Division of Plastic Surgery — as well as taught to medical residents here — and Dr. Slezak points to the many locations served by staff members as evidence of the division's wide reach. In addition to the main campus, satellite locations include UMMC Midtown Campus; UM Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute (former Kernan Hospital – cleft palate specialty); UM St. Joseph Medical Center; St. Agnes Hospital; UM Baltimore Washington Medical Center; UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown, Greater Baltimore Medical Center, and a practice in Timonium.

Dr. Slezak is joined in the Division of Plastic Surgery by Rachel Bluebond-Langner, MD; Yvonne Rasko, MD; Ronald Silverman, MD; Nelson Goldberg, MD; and Michael R. Christy, MD.

"Nelson Goldberg has been here 30-plus years, I've been here for 25, and we have new, young physicians who have been here just a year, so it's nice to have the interaction between the different levels of experience," explains Dr. Slezak. "We help each other so that we have the perfect blend of experience and new technology.

"Each of us go to separate hospitals … but we discuss difficult cases, show pictures to each other and ask each other's advice," she adds. "That's one of the great advantages of academic practice — you have fellow surgeons to consult with."

New Techniques Improve Outcome

As a tertiary referral center, UMMC handles more complex plastic surgery cases requiring the interaction of many specialties, including oncology, general surgery, trauma and others. Compared to community plastic surgery practices, "there's more interdisciplinary assessment of cases, with physicians working together to come to the best solution," Dr. Slezak notes.

"Plastic surgery is very innovative," she says. "It's not like if you've done one, you've done them all. Every patient is different... it's a very individual process."

Distinctive research on a broad spectrum of plastic surgery topics is helping to single out UMMC in subjects such as wound care, biologic meshes and negative pressure dressings. More than 20 research projects are currently in progress, he says, spread across animal studies, clinical outcomes and clinical trials.

A newer technique helping to improve outcomes is the use of indocyanine green (ICG) angiography to confirm adequate blood flow to skin areas during and after surgery. After the dye is injected, an infrared laser aimed at the skin will show if it's properly perfused.

Key Points:

  • Division of Plastic Surgery has grown from three to 10 physicians in last quarter-century
  • Plastic surgeons tackle tough cases involving issues such as burns, limb reconstruction and complex hernia repair in addition to cosmetic surgery
  • Plastic surgery patients served in many affiliate locations throughout UMMC system
  • More than 20 ongoing research problems address issues such as wound care, biologic meshes, negative pressure dressings and potential abdominal wall transplants

To reach the Division of Plastic Surgery directly, please call 410-328-2360.

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