The second of the course included a live televised rhinoplasty that I performed. This was a stressful, yet exhilarating experience. The patient was recruited by one of the faculty members. She had a deviated septum and was given the option for a cosmetic rhinoplasty by a visiting Professor from the U.S., namely me. I treated her just like one of my own patients. I received the photos by email a few weeks prior. I uploaded the photos into my computer and performed computer imaging on the photos. I then saw the patient the afternoon before for a personal examination and to discuss our plan. Most importantly, to make sure that the patient was comfortable with me and the surgical plan. When the consultation was complete, she was quite excited at the prospect of a new nose. She had a crooked nose and a very wide twisted nasal tip that was over-projected (stuck out too far from her face).
I maintained my routine of doing what Dr. Robert Simons and my mentors always taught: a rhinoplasty is performed 5 times. The first time is when you meet the patient, discuss their desires and perform a thorough nasal examination. The surgery is already being planned in the surgeon’s mind. The second time is reviewing the photos and imaging, often with the patient at a second consult. The third time is the morning of surgery. I review the photos, the written surgical plan and the imaging. The fourth time is actually performing the surgery. For a primary rhinoplasty, surgery rarely deviates from the plan given a careful evaluation and intimate knowledge of nasal anatomy. The fifth time is a year later, comparing the before and after photos to see how the nose actually came out. We critique our own results to help affirm or look to further refine our personal technique. For this young lady, the first two steps were reversed, but the rest adhered to. I had gone over this plan many times in my head before her surgery.
Back to the surgery, I went to the operating room on Thursday morning, a beautiful newly renovated facility. I was even given bright yellow surgical O.R. clogs to wear. They have them in every size, and are cleaned after every surgery just like the surgical scrubs. I was then wired for sound and off to the surgery. There were three video cameras, one above the patient, a second from the side and a third with a close up view from below the nose. I was quite comfortable narrating my rhinoplasty since I am usually accompanied in surgery by ether a fellow in Facial Plastic Surgery or a resident from the New York Presbyterian, Columbia, Cornell program. The moderator back in the lecture hall was Prof. Gilbert Nolst-Trenite, a recognized international leader in rhinoplasty education and author of numerous textbooks and hundreds of articles on rhinoplasty. He asked questions throughout the surgery and related questions from the audience. By the time I started surgery, my butterflies were gone. With a scalpel in my hand, I felt quite at home. Surgery went very well. The feedback during surgery from the other faculty in the lecture hall and attendees was quite positive.
Thursday afternoon was a relief. Despite having performed thousands of rhinoplasies, this was an exception; the pressure of a live rhinoplasty in front of the symposium as well as a dozen faculty of established rhinoplasty surgeons was now over. I had one more lecture that afternoon. But first there was a cadaver dissection lab. This is quite routine for me since I have participated in and taught in many of these lab sessions. There is a room with fresh frozen cadaver heads on trays. These are from people who have donated their bodies for medical study. The cadaver heads are always treated with respect and will be used by a number of specialties in pursuit of medical educations. The faculty members helped the attendees perform dissections and surgical techniques on these specimens according to a planned lab manual.
My afternoon lecture was, “Intra-nasal Rhinoplasty, a dying art?” Another name for intra-nasal rhinoplasty is closed rhinoplasty. This is a topic for another series of blogs. In a nutshell, most young surgeons only taught the open rhinoplasty approach. There are a number of contributing factors for this. However, for most patients, I feel that a skilled, experienced surgeon can get equal results with closed intra-nasal rhinoplasty without an external incision across the bottom of the nose. A better view of the tip cartilages doesn’t automatically make for a better surgeon or better results. It’s as stated prior: precise analysis, understanding nasal anatomy and an armamentarium of sufficient rhinoplasty techniques is what it takes to obtain quality results. This is with or without an incision across the bottom of the nose.
That night was a banquet dinner for the entire meeting, including faculty and attendees. There were a few speeches and I was honored and surprised with a crystal cut glass wine decanter. At dinner, another faculty member had just arrived for his talks the next day, Prof. Tony Bull from Great Britain. Dr. Bull is recognized as one of the most well respected rhinoplasty surgeons in the world. He also has a tremendous sense of humor that comes out in conversation at dinner plus throughout his lectures.