By Sherri Roberts
The Aesthetic Center for Plastic Surgery: A Mindset for Innovation – A Reputation for Excellence
Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs once said, “My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other’s kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That’s how I see business: great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.”
When the three founding partners of The Aesthetic Center for Plastic Surgery (ACPS), Doctors Christopher Patronella, Henry Mentz, and German Newall established their group practice in 1996, they had a lofty vision: to be the best in everything they did. And while each is talented and respected in his own right, it’s the combination of their gifts and expertise that have made ACPS a leader in its industry and currently the largest private aesthetic plastic surgery practice in Texas. Though their business opinions may have differed at times, they’ve remained single-minded in pursuing and implementing the attributes for which the group has become known: excellence, innovation, research and education. Not only has this helped them earn their specialty’s top honors, patients have reaped the benefit of their doctors’ dynamic exchange of ideas.
ACPS’s success has fueled its growth: Three additional plastic surgeons have since joined: Doctors Paul Fortes, Rolando Morales, and Kristi Hustak. Originally confined to a single office in a medical building, the group expanded to two Houston office locations, both of which have a medical spa: ACPS – The Spa and Rejuvenation Center. The group’s new 11,000 square foot state-of-the-art Center of Excellence, scheduled to open this winter, will host its state-licensed, AAAASF-certified private surgery center, research department, and expanded medical spa. In total, ACPS facilities cover 35,000 square feetencompassing:
- 6 overnight rooms
- 4 operating rooms
- 4 minor rooms
- 3 clinical offices
- 72 employees
ACPS surgeons perform a total of more than 6,000 face, breast, and body aesthetic surgical procedures a year — a testament to the group’s finesse in blending artistry with surgical precision, advanced technology and research in a caring environment. They offer the most advanced surgical and nonsurgical procedures to aesthetically improve all areas of the body. Each doctor has developed a unique niche for which he/she has become known though they all are also highly skilled in performing a wide range of aesthetic procedures. ACPS surgeons continually strive to advance the art, science, safety, and results of plastic surgery. Much of their individual and collaborative research is carried out through the ACPS Center for Clinical Research and Education. ACPS was one of the first private plastic surgery practices in the nation to establish an in-house research center. Their work has been published in numerous plastic surgery journals and textbooks and has been presented globally at hundreds of plastic surgery conferences in more than 30 countries.
- Developed the True Form Tummy Tuck® method over 15 years to create a more authentic, elegant abdominal appearance characterized by soft contours and smooth transitions between adjacent regions. Compelled by his disappointment with the flat-as-a-board look standard techniques commonly yielded, Dr. Patronella refined and incorporated techniques to recreate the attractive subtle physical details that typically can be seen on a toned female abdomen prior to pregnancy.
- Patronella’s Tummy Tuck method article spotlighted as the “Featured Operative Technique” article (FOT) in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal. With a video production company, Dr. Patronella created an instructional video for plastic surgeons which demonstrates each procedure step.
- His landmark Liposuction Safety article won the best paper in America for 2008 by ASAPS and effectively made body contouring safer for every patient. He is an instructor for ASAPS Liposuction Safety and is an expert in breast lift safety.
- He’s a two-time winner of the Fox Award for the best paper at the Texas Society of Plastic Surgeons 2008 and 2015 conferences, honors that are based upon the votes of his colleagues.
- Drs. Patronella and Mentz developed a Delay-Fill method to significantly reduce complications in combining breast augmentation with breast lift surgery — a traditionally challenging combination.
- The first surgeon to be Triple Boarded in Otolaryngology, Facial Plastic Surgery, and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in the US (1993). Houston’s only member of the prestigious Rhinoplasty Society.
- Invented Abdominal Etching®, an advanced liposuction technique in 1992, defining the first 3 dimensional body contouring technique which gives patients six-pack abs definition through fat removal around abdominal muscular structures. He teaches the 3D Contouring and the Liposuction Safety course at the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) and the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS). CBS’s Inside Edition spotlighted the procedure and Dr. Mentz.
- Developed a customized facelift method that produces outstanding results, including cases for which a European judging panel awarded him the first place “Best Surgical Facial Rejuvenation” trophy twice: at the 2014 and 2016 Anti-Aging Medicine European Congress in Paris. Dr. Mentz has authored three chapters on facelifts in plastic surgery textbooks, Operative Plastic Surgery, Advanced Surgical Facial Rejuvenation and Dissecting the Facelift.
- Other innovations have included reduction of bra strap grooves with fat grafting, pectoral etching, breast lift safety, roller pump for Brazilian Buttock Augmentation, pain pumps to reduce abdominoplasty recovery, and the use of adipose derived stem cells in plastic surgery.
- Winner of the “Best Surgical Body Shaping” award at the 2016 Anti-Aging & Beauty Awards sponsored by The Anti-Aging Medicine European Congress held in Paris France. An elite international juding panel selected Dr. Newall’s entry as the best from among numerous entries submitted from around the world.
- Drs. Newall and Mentz developed a technique to produce shapelier Brazilian butt lift results by reverse-engineering the liposuction mechanism to transfer greater fat volume in a fraction of the time compared to the tedious syringe method.
- Developed CelluLipo, a body contouring procedure in which liposuction and fat grafting are combined using a method which diminishes cellulite. The study is in progress, but one theory explaining the cellulite reduction is the introduction of stem cells derived from the harvested fat may improve the elasticity of the treated skin.
- Originally from Peru and Georgetown educated, Dr. Newall has developed a strong reputation in Houston’s Latino community as the city’s finest, frequently featured on Telemundo and Univision.
He is of Cuban descent, bilingual, bicultural and offers the latest hair grafting technology (Neograft) to men and women through a technology that leaves no visible scar. He has provided leadership in designing specialty contouring garments for use after surgery.
As one of the youngest plastic surgeons to join ACPS, Dr. Morales, an avid body builder with his wife, already is recognized as a rising star in plastic surgery for many achievements:
- ACPS research articles he wrote were twice named EDITOR’S CHOICE in BODY CONTOURING in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, 2013 and 2016
- Two-time winner of YPS Award (Best paper by a Young Plastic Surgeon) at the Texas Society of Plastic Surgeons meetings, 2014 and 2015
- Invited to be Blocker-Lewis Visiting Professor for Singleton Surgical Society Sixty-First Annual Scientific Program (at University of Texas Medical Branch), a speaking invitation typically extended to respected plastic surgeons twice his age.
- Spearheaded the establishment of the group’s ASAPS-endorsed fellowship. In 2015, ACPS’s fellowship became one of fewer than 20 plastic surgery organizations in the nation to receive the esteemed endorsement of ASAPS. As part of the real-world curriculum, physicians chosen for the fellowship observe all aspects of a successful private plastic surgery practice and receive one-on-one training and mentoring from the groups’ surgeons. In addition to this fellowship, ACPS surgeons work with leaders at Houston-area plastic surgery residency programs to provide clinical training for residents.
- He is an instructor for ASAPS Liposuction Safety
ACPS’s newest plastic surgeon specializes in surgical and nonsurgical female genital rejuvenation procedures, one of the fastest growing areas of aesthetic surgery. As a mother of three and a native American who was born on a Navajo Indian reservation in Arizona, her surgical skill is complemented by an empathetic ability to connect with her female patients and their aesthetic concerns and goals. She is specially trained in aesthetic and functional genital restoration for females and has appeared on the podium and is an instructor for ThermiVA, one of the best new technologies this year.
- Innovative safety strategies – ACPS surgeons identified key factors to improve patient safety and reduce risk of blood clots in body contouring procedures. ACPS’s research appeared in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal (ASJ) and went on to win the journal’s Best Article Award in 2008. The group’s groundbreaking recommendations are now widely adopted in aesthetic plastic surgery practices world-wide, making contouring safer.
- ACPS surgeons were chosen to be lead investigators for a study of Exparel® – a long-acting anesthetic that delivers pain relief up to 72 hours to improve the patient recovery experience. Their research was published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal.
- Customized medication – ACPS uses Advanced Genomics DNA analysis technology to determine the most effective medications and which to avoid for a patient based upon that person’s genetic makeup. The analysis is generated based upon a swab sample taken from a patient’s cheek.
The Patient Experience: Exemplary Care From Start to Finish
ACPS surgeons incorporate numerous advanced patient care protocols to ensure customers have a smooth, rewarding experience from their initial contact with the practice through the recovery phase and beyond.
- ACPS’s in-house call center ensures individuals who contact the practice are greeted by staff members who discuss their questions, schedule consultations, and email/send information about the specific surgeon and procedures of interest.
- A patient coordinator welcomes each guest prior to meeting the surgeon. Dr. Newall’s patient coordinator Patty Moya noted, “They are apprehensive because they are showing you something they feel embarrassed about. You become like their friend or family, and they are not just a number.”
- At the consultation, the doctor explains his/her recommendations based upon the aesthetic goals the patient has discussed. The purpose is to educate patients, letting them know what is available to them and what they can expect with the various options. If a patient has expressed interest in facial rejuvenation, we would focus on their goals on the computer imager then offer options for rejuvenation. First, a nonsurgical strategy of fillers, Botox, radiofrequency (Infini and Thermi), laser and topical creams from our Medical Spa. Second, a plan for minimal surgical improvement of the area of focus and lastly, a review of our best offer for an outstanding outcome including surgery and Medical Spa utilization.
- If price is an issue or an individual desires to postpone more extensive improvement, the doctor may suggest a less invasive, more inexpensive option, if appropriate, such as ThermiTight™ to improve skin laxity. In this way, an individual can opt to undergo the procedure or combinations of procedures of their choice with an understanding of the results they can expect. Education is the keystone to a happy patient.
- At the patient’s appointment to sign consent forms, a medical assistant explains instructions to follow prior to and after surgery, including what the patient can and cannot do, what he/she can expect, and warning signs that merit a call to the doctor.
- Instructions also are given via an information packet.
- Patient receives a postoperative supply bag which includes pain medication prescriptions, gauze, antibacterial ointment and VitaMedica Recovery Support vitamins, which contain nutrients to speed wound healing, support the immune system, prevent infection and minimize inflammation.
- The same medical assistant who met with the patient for the consents appointment gives the patient a business card so the patient can email or call with any questions or concerns that occur throughout the surgical experience. This promotes a continuity of care that is comforting to patients. As ACPS medical assistant Veronica commented, “We hold their hand through the whole process. Our goal is to educate them and make them feel comfortable. We want their experience to be very positive, so we want them to be informed—what to expect in the recovery phase, how to care for surgically-treated areas, etc.”
ACPS surgeons adhere to the most stringent industry requirements for equipment, operating room safety, and staff credentials. They employ a team of board certified anesthesiologists to monitor prior to, during and immediately following surgery. For our overnights, an ACPS nurse is assigned to stay with a patient at all times, ensuring each customer receives attentive, uninterrupted care during her/his stay at the surgical center.
Added Touch Recovery Care Program
The practice receives overwhelmingly positive feedback from guests for the many “Added Touch” services ACPS surgeons incorporate to enhance their recovery:
- Flowers and a Card -Every patient awakes from surgery to find a bouquet of flowers and a card with a handwritten note from her/his surgeon.
- Home Health Care – ACPS surgeons offer their patients recovering in the Houston area a private visit to their homes or hotel accommodations a day or two after surgery from a certified medical professional who monitors their recovery, changes bandages, and educates patients’ caregivers regarding appropriate care techniques. This member of the ACPS team provides a patient’s surgeon with a recovery update, which allows the physician to address any potential concerns.
- Therapeutic Postsurgical Massage and Skin Care – ACPS’s licensed massage therapists offer a gentle massage that blends lymphatic and Swedish massage techniques to reduce bruising and swelling and stimulate nerve endings to diminish numbness.
Connecting with New and Established Patients
ACPS surgeons continually evaluate the most effective ways to reach prospective patients and maintain connection with established patients. This includes:
- Group and individual surgeon websites and social media profiles
- Digital and print ads, in local and national publications such as Allure and Glamour magazines
- An in-house marketing team
- Newsletter mailed to approximately 30,000 total patients
In 2014, the group hired a professional ad agency to update the practice’s brand and develop a logo, company colors, and ad campaigns. To build a consistent brand image, these elements are incorporated into every aspect of ACPS marketing including the website, digital and print ads, letterhead, and company uniforms.
Into the Future
The ACPS Fellowship is the key to the group’s future legacy. It allows the surgeons to both “give back” to plastic surgery by teaching future aesthetic plastic surgeons and to “stay young” by keeping close to the newest innovative techniques and devices in plastic surgery. The fellowship validates ACPS at a national and international level as a premier practice in the academic plastic surgery community.
Dr. Morales best describes ACPS’s current endeavors and future plans: “Vendor sponsorships and grants will continue to approach ACPS to validate their brands and products. Our goal is to produce the best-trained aesthetic fellows in the country, who will be consistently producing quality research in plastic surgery and then go on to greater academic achievement in their careers. Some of these fellows (since they are the best trained) will join the group as associates, continuing its reputation as the most dominant practice in Houston. Future associates will have that same commitment to education, safety and innovation.”
“I see our future practice with 10 to 15 aesthetic plastic surgeons, a few dermatologists, two aesthetic fellows a year, a strong focus on minimally-invasive techniques, expanding to four locations and beyond every year that we keep pushing forward. We already lead the pack in the great state of Texas and in 10 years, and we will be the undeniable “gold standard” aesthetic practice in the country.”