Suburban Life Magazine "More than Just a Pretty Face"

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Suburban Life Magazine
Volume 5, Issue 6
Page 16.

"More than Just a Pretty Face"

Using a blend of art and science, dual-boarded plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Stefan produces beautiful results that stand the test of time by GLORI GAYSTER | photography by TODD ROTHSTEIN

Derived from the Latin word “plasticus” from centuries ago, “plastic” refers to something that can be shaped and molded. “Surgeon” is a medical practitioner qualified to practice surgery, according to the Oxford Dictionary. When combined, the two truly characterize the beauty of art and the skill of medicine. For Michael Stefan, M.D., this marriage enables him to change the lives of a diverse group of patients.

From a young age, Dr. Stefan had a true appreciation for all forms of art—from architecture and automobiles to the mastery of DaVinci, Michelangelo and Raphael. (“DaVinci perfectly illustrated the principals of one’s face,” Dr. Stefan says.) As a student at New York University, he studied these artists and others while majoring in medicine and art his- tory. Then he had to make a pivotal choice: a fellowship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art or medical school.

“I realized the latter was the better option,” he says. “However, it was the love of art, design and reconstruction that drew me to this specialty.”- Dr. Michael Stefan

Less is More

Today more than ever, patients are looking for treatment options that are convenient, practical and safe. Says Dr. Stefan, “Especially in this economy, many people fear any extended work absence may cost them their job. This, coupled with matters of cost, has led to streamlining plastic surgery options and often replacing them with nonsurgical or minimally invasive procedures.” These procedures not only require minimal amounts of treatment, but they also minimize the inconvenience on a person’s schedule; most require little downtime or recovery, despite providing subtle but effective results.

One of the greatest changes in recent years has come with the introduction of Botox. With pinpoint precision, Dr. Stefan is able to skillfully soften forehead wrinkles and frown lines that make people look angry and tired, or to make other improvements throughout the face. Botox is the most popular of all facial-enhancement procedures, according to Dr. Stefan, because it is a simple, cost-effective treatment that, in the hands of a skilled surgeon, produces exceptional results.

The use of dermal fillers alone or in combination with Botox can provide a high degree of convenience, safety and natural-looking results delivered conveniently and affordably. While Botox is effective at reducing wrinkles, dermal fillers such as Restylane and Juvéderm create the volume often lacking in an aging face. Fully trained with such products, Dr. Stefan carefully considers a patient’s facial structure and skin type before customizing the most suitable treatment. In fact, he will often ask new patients to bring in a photograph of themselves in their 20s or 30s that he can use to better understand their
naturally youthful appearance.

The evolution of cosmetic surgery has been further enhanced by laser technology. Resurfacing and skin tightening are two of the most popular laser-based procedures to safely and effectively improve the texture and appearance of one’s skin. Using these procedures in a discriminate manner adds the finishing touch to a non- surgical or “liquid” facelift. Other skincare options available to patients include chemical peels and medical-grade skincare products. The goal of these combined procedures and treatments is to provide patients’ with a make-up free complexion. Dr. Stefan likens the use of Botox and dermal fillers to the tailoring of a high-quality suit, while the skincare programs ensure the skin pro- vides a fine fabric with which to work.

Dr. Stefan believes these minimally invasive procedures have “brought the art of plastic surgery to the mainstream with the delivery of beautiful results in a safe, convenient and cost-effective way.” As a result, the specialty of plastic surgery has been forever changed. He notes, though, that traditional surgical procedures such as rhinoplasty, breast augmentation and tummy tucks continue to be available, safe and appropriate for many of his patients.

Dr. Stefan is routinely joined in his practice by other surgeons in the exchange of ideas on a national and international level. Also, he has much gratitude for the tremendously talented people who trained him and, as such, strives to return this kindness to the surrounding community.

The Future is Bright

Dr. Stefan is a member of the exclusive International Federation for Adipose Therapeutics and Science, as well as the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, and memberships to such organizations hold a great deal of value for any plastic surgeon wanting to be educated about the latest advancements in the field.

Through these affiliations, Dr. Stefan stays at the forefront of stem-cell research and other advancements in the area of fat removal and fat grafting. “There has been an explosion in the area of stem cells and the possibilities as it results to our specialty,” he says. “While the science is promising and important to acknowledge, it will probably take a decade to truly understand its potential.”

On the contrary, structural fat grafting is a treatment that is both here and now. It’s also one that Dr. Stefan holds in high regard. Simply de- fined, this procedure uses a patient’s own fat to add volume and restore the smooth, firm con- tours associated with youth. Often used on the face, it can also enhance the curves of one’s but- tocks or augment the breasts by as much as one cup size.

The three-step process begins with harvesting and the use of liposuction to remove fat from areas of the body where it is plentiful. This is followed by the careful processing of the fat, in which Dr. Stefan filters and retains the healthiest, most viable fat cells. Lastly, the fat is carefully injected into the new location, where it will revascularize and flourish in the area that needs volume.

Care and Safety

With the ever-growing popularity of these minimally invasive cosmetic enhancements, some doctors and other professionals have started to perform the procedures with minimal training. The procedures are meant to be simple and easy but can leave patients with less-than-optimal results in the hands of inexperienced practitioners. Dr. Stefan has spent eight years in training to ac- quire his high degree of qualification. He is board certified by the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Plastic Surgery, which share and inform his belief in a culture of safety. This certification includes extensive training, continuing education and adherence to the highest medical ethical standards. To maintain his accreditation Dr. Stefan uses only board-certified anesthesiologists at a fully accredited surgical facility. He is additionally committed to exceeding the continuing-education requirements in his field and promoting safe use of his profession.

Comfort is also important, and Dr. Stefan’s “cycle of care” begins with a patient’s first office visit in which he spends an hour with them. “The consultation is a critical first step in building patient trust,” he shares. “Most patients arrive nervous, fearing the possible criticism of their face and body. They can also be nervous about cost.” The cycle continues with the selected procedure— a customized treatment plan decided upon by the doctor/patient team. Last but not least is post- procedure care, whereby Dr. Stefan ensures that each patient’s results stand the test of time. He continues to see patients yearly, at no addition- al charge, to ensure they continue to be pleased with their results. “We want to know if our techniques are serving our clients,” he says.

When it comes to art, there is no single definition of beautiful. The same is true with people, so the results of any procedure must satisfy and celebrate the uniqueness of each individual. Dr. Stefan has mastered this balance, adding, “I truly love what I do and look to pro- vide patients with a happy and safe experience. Seeing their smiles says it all.”
Article by
Philadelphia Plastic Surgeon