Plastic surgeon grafts fat

A Way of Helping

For Dr. John Bauer, plastic surgery is more than just nose jobs. It’s a way of helping people.

The chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery, professor and regional associate dean of medical education at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School at the Permian Basin, Bauer offers a variety of procedures including breast reconstruction using fat grafting. It can help fix injuries to skin after radiation and he can obtain fat from other areas of the body to help improve the look of the breasts.

Bauer said he mostly does tissue expander staged reconstruction.

“… Women will have their breast removed then we’ll put a balloon in under their skin and many times their muscle. After they heal, the balloon has a little port in it and then we fill it up with fluid and then blow it up and make some new skin. Then we come back later on and put the implant in,” Bauer said.

Bauer works with women who have had lumpectomies, mastectomies and double mastectomies and those with the BRCA 1 and 2 gene that can increase the chances of breast cancer.

“There’s just a lot of folks that either picked a lumpectomy, have gotten both breasts off or have gotten radiation after a bad breast cancer and I want to help them,” Bauer said.

Tessie Rubio is one of Bauer’s patients. She had a double mastectomy and is undergoing tissue expander staged reconstruction.

Her general surgeon told her she could undergo a lumpectomy or have a mastectomy and get implants. She was 44 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and turned 45 in November.

Rubio said it’s a personal choice to have a lumpectomy or mastectomy and reconstruction, “but my first thought was I’m not old enough to have them not there.”

She said she thought the idea of fat grafting was great. Her sister-in-law had the procedure and Rubio said you can’t tell it’s an implant.

“It just looks more natural,” Rubio said.

In addition to the medical aspect, Bauer takes an interest in his patients and their families as people. He also has the best bedside manner.

“Dr. Bauer … is one of the most nurturing doctors I have ever dealt with,” Rubio said.

Bauer offers a long list of procedures such as post bariatric reconstruction and skin cancer reconstruction, to name a few.

He was in general surgery and got to do his first breast reconstruction in his second year of residency.

“The type of surgeon I am is very different because we have to take patients many times from a very different place than most surgeons take patients. Most types of surgeons take patients that are broken, or injured, or damaged, hurt or something’s really wrong with them and try to bring them back toward normal. … Whereas in plastic surgery, many patients especially in the cosmetic realm, you’re trained to take them from somewhere within relative normalcy to better. That has its own challenges,” Bauer said.

Bauer earned a bachelor of arts in sociology from UCLA in 1984, post baccalaureate in science at Bennington College in 1989 and earned his medical degree at the Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1993.

He did his general surgery at Medical College in Pennsylvania at MCP/Hahnemann in Philadelphia and his plastic surgery at University of Texas Medical Branch-Galveston.

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