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March 2009
Artistic Approach
By Janet Kropinak
 Dr. Broc Pratt is an artist, albeit not in the conventional sense of the term. He doesn’t paint landscapes. He doesn’t sculpt from clay or stone. He doesn’t look at the world from behind a camera.

      But he uses his vision and these same skills to contour and shape the body in ways that create balance, increase function, and strengthen self-esteem, creating a living masterpiece in each patient he sees.

      As a firm believer that the integration of art and medicine is the best approach to achieving optimal results and patient satisfaction, Pratt utilizes his extensive training, experience and discriminating eye for detail in the pursuit of body symmetry and revitalization.

 

Contouring a career

      Three years into his surgical residency with Carolinas Medical Center, Pratt found himself drawn to plastic surgery and challenged by the diversity it offered. Upon completion of his residency, he elected to dedicate an additional year of research in minimally invasive surgery. His training culminated in a fellowship in plastic and reconstructive surgery at UNC Chapel Hill.

      Pratt returned to Charlotte as a faculty member and clinical instructor of plastic surgery at Carolinas Medical Center. The position, he says, afforded him the unique opportunity to be involved in a variety of complex reconstructive procedures as well as fulfill the needs of the elective cosmetic surgery patient.

      The experience fortified Pratt’s emerging passion for aesthetic surgery and his desire to use his talents to help patients achieve physical improvements and, at the same time, enhance their self-esteem.

      Pratt soon found his vision aligned with that of Metrolina Plastic Surgery (MPS), a 20-year-old practice, and its founder Dr. Edward Bednar.

      Bednar had established the practice, offering his patients a rare combination of skilled surgical techniques and award-winning artistic talent. His world-class competitive status and training in painting, woodcarving and sculpting were largely responsible for the MPS emphasis on an artistic and philosophical approach.

      “As a physician, quality patient care is of the utmost importance to me,” underlines Pratt. “I believe that teamwork, communication and patient education are essential to patient satisfaction. We had the same approach to patient care,” he remembers. “There was an immediate visceral bond; we clicked right away.” In March of 2008, Pratt became a partner in MPS.

      The timing of Pratt’s arrival was convenient as it has allowed Bednar, who is currently enjoying sabbatical, to take a step back from his administrative responsibilities of the practice, passing the torch to his new partner.

      “Dr. Pratt relates to patients in a way that endears them to him,” remarks Kandace Hill, patient coordinator. “He sees it as an essential part of his job to educate people that the decision to have plastic surgery should not happen lightly and to make the right decisions for themselves.”

      Hill is responsible for responding to inquiries from potential patients and sending them a packet of detailed information on the MPS practice, the procedure and Pratt. Then a consultation is scheduled, which includes an exam and discussion of medical history and medications.

      Hill explains, “Dr. Pratt is very thorough and must feel satisfied with the results of the exam before agreeing to proceed with any procedures.”

      “It’s important to provide as much knowledge and information as possible at the time of consultation to help my patients make sound, informed decisions,” Pratt confirms. “I find that when a patient is part of the decision-making process, the sense of collaboration often replaces the anxiety about the procedure.”

      Hill adds: “Dr. Pratt’s professional manner gives each patient confidence in his knowledge while his bedside manner lets them know he cares about their individual results.”

      Pratt says it is their service that sets them apart from other clinics. “We are committed 24/7 to the needs of our patients.”

 

Panoply of possibilities

      Once a procedural plan has been put in place, Pratt reviews before and after photos of similar procedures with the patient to gain a better understanding of their hopes and expectations.

      “These photos are used to show the spectrum of results possible following a procedure,” comments Pratt. “The goal is to give the patient what you think they want by picking the most appropriate course of action with the least amount of problems.”

      This upfront approach is in contrast to clinics who use high-tech software designed to show post-op results. Pratt cautions that these programs are oftentimes only offering “smoke and mirrors.”

      “It is impossible to factor in such things as tissue compliance, skeletal irregularities as well as other unforeseen variables,” he explains.

      The most popular surgical procedures offered by MPS include breast augmentation, breast lift, liposuction, tummy tuck and blepharoplasty (eyelid rejuvenation surgery).

      Breast augmentation can enhance the body contour of a woman, who, for personal reasons, feels her breast size is too small, correct a reduction in breast volume after pregnancy, or balance a difference in breast size. Similarly, a breast lift raises and reshapes sagging breast tissue resulting from pregnancy, nursing, and/or simply the force of gravity.

      Liposuction is a technique to remove unwanted fat deposits from specific areas of the body, such as the abdomen, butt, hips, thighs, knees, calves, and ankles.

One of the most in-demand procedures at MPS is the tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, which removes excess skin and fat from the middle and lower abdomen. The procedure is performed on an out-patient basis under general anesthesia in the clinic’s fully accredited on-site private surgical suite.

      One patient praises Pratt’s skills in returning her body to “normal” after a 100-pound weight loss. The doctor performed a tummy tuck, which took care of the loose and lax skin that remained, and she says went a long way to restoring her confidence and self-esteem. She is so pleased with the results that she is considering further enhancements to make her look even more youthful, not an unusual occurrence with Pratt’s patients.

      A common procedure among both men and women alike is eyelid surgery, also known as blepharoplasty, which removes fat, usually along with excess skin, from the upper and lower eyelids. Eyelid surgery can correct drooping upper lids and puffy bags below the eyes—features that make a person look older and more tired than they feel, and may even interfere with vision.

      Pratt is also well-trained in specialty areas such as labiaplasty and vaginal rejuvenation. He comments that, although these procedures tend to be talked about less, they are still quite common.

      For those looking to enhance their looks but not interested in going under the knife, MPS has several options to help keep them looking healthy, the most popular being Botox. Botox injections are a diluted form of botulinum toxin which is injected into facial muscles to weaken the muscles that form wrinkles.

      Juvederm is also commonly used by Pratt to treat patients who want fuller lips and/or who are unhappy with facial creases.

      And recently, MPS began carrying Latisse, a new product on the market which just gained FDA-approval, which is designed to treat hypotrichosis of the eyelashes by increasing length, thickness, and darkness.

      While Pratt readily admits that their services are all elective, he does understand the impact the results have on patients.

      In particular, Pratt says he finds helping mothers restore their post-baby body particularly rewarding. One young mother is very pleased with Pratt’s breast augmentation and lift to correct the effects of nursing. She comments how natural and proportionate to her body the results were and how she is considering having him perform some additional procedures.

      “We may not be saving lives,” he says frankly. “But what we are doing is helping restore confidence. We’re helping our patients feel a little more comfortable with who they are and hopefully when they leave our office they leave with their head held a little higher.”

 

Recession causes wrinkle

      According to the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery roughly 12 million cosmetic surgical and non-surgical procedures were performed last year in the U.S., creating a $13 billion industry.

      With the economy in a recession and discretionary spending down, these numbers aren’t likely to see much growth in 2009. Surgeons and practices across the country are reporting a decline in both patient volume and gross billings.

      But even amidst troubled times, Pratt remains optimistic: “We are blessed that business is steady, people are still interested, despite what the economy is doing.” He adds: “We haven’t seen a decline as much as a shift in services.”

      He explains that with financing becoming more challenging for patients, some are forced to delay their surgeries for months or make negotiations in their procedural plan. “We are seeing patients getting a lot more creative when it comes to paying for their procedure,” he comments.

      Another shift in the industry is toward non-surgical procedures; the lower cost and often non-existent recovery period is drawing in followers in record numbers.

“We’ve seen interest in Botox shoot through the roof,” Pratt comments.

      And they aren’t alone, last year the procedure was performed more than 1.6 million times in the U.S., a 46 percent increase since 2000 and a 2,356 percent increase since 1997.

      “As consumers continue to feel the pinch, we’re likely to see more people turning to fillers as a way to improve their looks and delay surgery,” Pratt says.

      An interesting consequence of these recessionary times is the growth they’ve seen in the number of male patients seeking to enhance their appearance.

      “The economy has made the marketplace more competitive, and we’ve definitely seen an influx of men looking to gain an edge before reentering the work force,” explains Pratt. “Men are coming in for Botox treatments, fillers, liposuction, and eyelid tucks—anything that is going to give a more youthful and healthy appearance.”

      But even before the recession Pratt says he was seeing more men open to the possibility of plastic surgery. One young man tells of suffering from obesity through his adolescence, despite vigorous dieting and exercise, and coming to Pratt embarrassed and self-conscious because he couldn’t lose the fat around his breasts. He remarks about Pratt’s professional demeanor in both explaining the options and making him feel at ease. After Pratt performed a male breast reduction (gynecomastia), he now feels confident with his body.

      In addition to battling the economy, Pratt says public misconception is another obstacle of the job. “The Internet is great because it puts a lot of information out there, but on the same note, the Internet is bad because it puts a lot of misinformation out there.”

      He explains that patients often come in with fears and reservations which are spurred by misinformation they acquired from one source or another.

      “We end up having to do quite a bit of reeducating people once they are here,” he says. “We do our best to demystify the process and create an open atmosphere which encourages people to ask questions and be proactive about becoming informed.”

      One way MPS is helping educate the public is through monthly informational seminars, which include an open forum for questions and a discussion of trends and procedural options, as well as an opportunity to meet Pratt and his staff.

      Hill adds that during the seminars patients often find that, “Dr. Pratt’s straightforward tactics and positive personality, combined with his expertise in the field, make him unique in the market.”

      Pratt encourages those looking to improve their looks, in subtle or not so subtle ways, to consider the possibilities and begin educating themselves on the abundance of options available.

      Similar to their patients, MPS has successfully undergone a transformation of its own with Pratt taking the helm; but their signature artistic approach to individual care and natural looking results remains the same.

Janet Kropinak is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.
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