Story by Deborah Welky
Twenty years ago, having completed his training in Washington, D.C. and after a brief stop in New York, Dr. Alan B. Pillersdorf came to Florida to open his practice, Plastic Surgery of Palm Beach. There were two doctors and one location – Wellington.
How times have changed! Today, Pillersdorf is joined by four doctors and runs surgery centers in Palm Springs and Abacoa as well as a medi spa, Aesthetics at SpaZen, at the main location, still in Wellington.
“Just as Wellington has expanded, my practice has expanded. My staff has grown, costs have become more difficult in Florida, but it’s still fun to practice,” Pillersdorf said. “Last year, we helped 4,900 patients.”
The art of plastic surgery itself has grown, too. Where a facelift, rhinoplasty or a tummy tuck used to dominate plastic surgery practices, today there are a number body-enhancing options – anything from chin implants to brow lifts, liposuction to breast reconstruction.
“Breast surgery has changed,” Pillersdorf said. “Cancer is more readily diagnosed, and patients want reconstruction afterward, where they were often not even offered that option 20 years ago.”
Liposuction, which barely existed 20 years ago, has now been fine-tuned to the point where incisions are smaller and down-time is less.
“We use a lot more lasers,” Pillersdorf explains. “Medicine has changed. Patients want an earlier return to work. Everything we can, we do on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia. It’s safer and less expensive… We put them on a pain bump for the first 72 hours, and they are generally back to work in a week.”
Botox is another good tool that plastic surgeons can use. Pillersdorf often uses it after mending a child’s cleft lift, to keep him from moving it. That’s part of Pillersdorf’s volunteer work for Project Access. Patients are referred through Palm Beach Medical Society to doctors who donate their time and hospitals that donate the resources. But Pillersdorf’s donations go beyond that. In 1991, he donated one of his own kidneys to his brother, Gary.
With four children – all of whom grew up in Wellington and one of whom maybe following in his father’s footsteps – and wife, Rhona, who “certainly supported me through the lean years,” Pillersdorf is looking toward the future, not only for his own family, but for his patients as well.
Throughout the U.S., the population is aging, but people are healthier, too. “Patients are getting older, but they’re still in good shape, so we are still doing surgery on them,” Pillersdorf said.
Plastic Surgery of Palm Beach offers procedures for the face (chin, brows, eyelids, ears, lips and nose); body (tummy tucks, thigh lifts, arm lifts, liposuction, the sculpting of breasts and more) and skin (laser resurfacing of the face as well as the removal of hair, vascular lesions and tattoos).