PAT I I A AC I A A
hrough his work with competitive bodybuilders, ASPS member Mordcai Blau, MD,
White Plains, N.Y., found a true super-subspecialty in the plastic surgery O.R.
and a niche that inspired him to write a book on the subject, Masculinity Defined:
Gynecomastia and the Search for Perfect Pecs (Llumina Press).
note: The bulk of pages are devoted to
specific elements of our mission statement to keep
members informed of the social, political and economic trends and educational opportunities that
affect the specialty of plastic surgery.
PSN is pleased to take liberties with the aspect
of its mission statement by presenting a good-natured
look at the lives of notable members who we believe
are making significant contributions to the specialty.
If I had to start my career over, I Do it all over
again general surgery, plastic surgery and burn surgery.
Maybe even add hand and micro to it. The more you learn,
the more you do.
In the book, Dr. Blau takes readers on a journey
that begins with personal and painful stories of
adolescents who suffered with gynecomastia,
before ranging through his plastic surgery
training and almost-chance immersion into the
corrective procedure. The eight-chapter book
also delves into the mind/body connection
among his and how this link can bring
both positive and negative ends and the resulting success stories before culminating in a sea
of definitions and basic medical information for
had performed only a few gynecomastia
corrections by the early 1980s, which is when I
was visited in my office by Dave Palumbo, who
back then was an aspiring bodybuilder and who
had Dr. Blau recalls. was a medical student at the time, so he had
done his research and came to me for his correction; he knew the right questions to ask
and he was aware of the potential complications. There were minor complications, but they
were within acceptable parameters. He was happy with the
as called, employ communications networks
that can rival the Internet, Dr. Blau says, and his success with
Palumbo led directly to more work with the bodybuilding cohort
men who wanted that little competitive extra edge to put before
the judges. (Palumbo went on to a second-place finish in the
2003 National Physique Committee championship in the superheavyweight category, and the former editor-in-chief of MusMordcai Blau, MD
cular Development Magazine.) began to get more and more
and over time he slowly built from between 300-350 cases per year to his current
schedule of approximately 500 annually, Dr. Blau says.
But as his gynecomastia practice grew, so did his awareness that the literature available for
public consumption was woefully behind the times. When he began writing Masculinity
Defined in 2009, there appear to be any books tailored for men who sought information that could explain the condition itself, surgical treatment options, the perioperative
environment in which potential patients might find themselves up to a full year post-op
as well as the thoughts and processes of a surgeon made it his mission to treat the
That changed with the publication of his book, which has received positive reviews from
readers and from several patients and at least one mother, who tells of her son who now
sleeps at the beach, shirtless, whereas prior to his procedure even want to go on
family trips where he might have to take off his says Dr. Blau.
Dr. Blau calls his five-year writing endeavor not a chore, but rather duty and a pleasure.
70, and I want to leave something when I retire. However, I feel more energetic than I
did 20 years That might be in part due to genetics: A tentatively scheduled book-release
party was put on hold when he was called to Israel to look after his 90-year-old mother for
a few weeks. writing a book about the Dr. Blau says. we can have
our book-release parties PSN
15 YEARS AGO IN PSN...
By the year 2000, it had become accepted that the Internet
was not only here to stay, but that it also held the potential to reach far and wide into health care. Its full potential for use in plastic surgery practices, however, yet
been nailed down, as evidenced in the article
advertising takes a back seat while Internet which
appeared in the September/October 2000 issue of PSN:
will actually call and ask us if we have a Patients are going to
the Internet to find a doctor; they will choose a surgeon with a better site over just
a name listing from a directory. They are going to go with the person with more
Roberta Gartside, MD
30 September 2015 Plastic Surgery News
IN THIS ISSUE, we present to you Pirko MD,
Sacramento, Calif. Dr. completed his general
surgery residency at Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, and his
plastic surgery residency at the University of Illinois,Chicago.
He also completed a burn surgery fellowship at UC-Davis
Shriners Hospital for Children, Sacramento. Dr.
who serves on The PSF Volunteers in Plastic Surgery (VIPS)
Steering Committee, took time from moving into a new
house to answer the following questions for PSN:
A procedure I no longer perform Hair grafts. I just
have the patience for it. I like tattooing eyebrows or fillingin scalp scars with fake, tattooed hairs much better.
I operate without 1980s music.
every day, all day! My residents poke fun at me with remarks
such parents used to listen to Fortunately, my
nurses and I agree that we would have to
cancel the case if we had to listen to more current music.
The best part about being a plastic surgeon The ability to help others. I have traveled abroad more than 30
times to treat children with congenital differences or sequela
Pirko MD, operates on a child during a of injuries. Back home, fortunate to see my pediatric
surgical trip to Peru in June.
patients at Shriners Hospitals for Children an amazing institution that allows us to take care of all children, regardless of their ability to pay. If you know of a
child who needs plastic surgery and pay for it, send the family to the nearest Shriners they will do
whatever it takes to help.
Younger surgeons today are Smarter, harder working and more accomplished than we were, involved
in amazing research and they have abilities to network worldwide. Some of our residents at UC-Davis
are going to change the world. I often do more learning than teaching.
The single-greatest influence on my decision to
become a plastic surgeon Fernando Ortiz
Monasterio, MD. I met him as a young medical
student and was blown away by his presentation.
He invited me to rotate with him for the summer
in Mexico, and I was forever sold on plastic surgery
after that. He visited us here in California a year
before he passed at age 93. If I can wish for anything, to be half as smart as FOM when I get to
The last book I read The Elegance of the
Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. a charming novel
and a good read for plastic surgeons: The characDr. (second from right) shares a laugh with the
ters remind us that true beauty comes from within. late Fernando Ortiz Monasterio, MD (right), in 2012.
The biggest surprise had in the O.R. I can only recall one surprise and it happened this year: I did
a mastectomy for a patient with chronic radiation dermatitis and found she had no chest wall under her
breast; her ribs had necrosed and I was looking at her lungs and pericardium. We completed her LD as
planned, and she did really well.
The best dish I cook Soup. known on my street for making great soup. The key is never taking shortcuts and making everything from scratch. I joke that the main ingredient is love: If you love the craft, then it
matter how much time or effort goes into it. Being a cook is not all that different from being a surgeon. If your heart is in it, it shows.
The best thing a grateful patient gave to me A gigantic check for Shriners Hospital. One of my adult
patients came back and asked what she could buy me to show her gratitude. I suggested making a small donation to Shriners Hospitals. She and her husband have since given hundreds of thousands of dollars to help
children in need and have encouraged many of their friends to do the same.
The most-surprising person I follow on Twitter Follow on what?
The best thing I ever purchased for my office The entire collection of the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, starting with Vol. published in 1946. It always gives me a chuckle when I discuss cases or
techniques with the residents I pull the reference off the shelf while pulling it off the
The words I try to live by If you care, it shows.