The Aesthetic Guide — July/August 2013
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Dr. Kevin Brenner
Jeffrey Frentzen

As with many medical students who navigate through the myriad of medical specialties, Kevin Brenner, M. D., F.A.C.S., initially had interest in other disciplines prior to choosing plastic surgery. As a well-known plastic and reconstructive surgeon located in Beverly Hills, Calif., Dr. Brenner has become recognized for his expertise in revision breast surgery, rhinoplasty and mommy make-overs.

More recently, he was a guest lecturer at THE Aesthetic Show™ 2013, held in Las Vegas in May, where he discussed advanced body shaping and breast surgery technologies, as well as his experience as an invited expert on national television shows, and how he has utilized such media opportunities to help build his professional reputation as a plastic surgeon.

“My earliest inspiration for the medical profession was my pediatrician. So, when I started medical school I thought that I would choose pediatrics as a specialty,” he expressed. “Then, during my third year of pediatric rotations I realized that surgery was a better fit for me. At first I played with the idea of general surgery and even orthopedic surgery, but my first exposure to plastic surgery was during my third year of surgery rotations,” Dr. Brenner recalled.

“What I liked most about plastic surgery was the creativity of procedures, as well as the breadth and diversity of the discipline. Most plastic surgeons perform a wide array of procedures, so much so that some may do completely different types of operations each and every day. Plastic surgery is a very demanding, yet creative endeavor.”

Dr. Brenner began his premedical education while studying as a biology major at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He received his medical degree from Loyola University, Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago. He completed two residencies, first in general surgery at RUSH Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center and Cook County Hospitals, and then in plastic and reconstructive surgery at the University of California, Irvine. Dr. Brenner also developed an interest in the behavior of cartilage grafts while completing a fellowship in tissue engineering. He went on to obtain board certification in general surgery and plastic surgery.

Dr. Brenner’s interest in surgical specialties has always been firmly rooted in his innate ability to use his hands, whether in wood shop or simply around the house growing up. He also had a natural artistic ability. “Plastic surgery is known for attracting surgeons who describe themselves as artists and their work as art,” he began, “and while it certainly helps to have an artistic personality, plastic surgery is an incredibly complex surgical discipline that requires intense training and practice. It is not like taking an art class. I am not an artist who became a plastic surgeon. I’m a doctor first and I happen to have a good aesthetic eye. It’s an important distinction. I think part of the reason I gravitated towards plastic surgery is that I have a very keen eye for what looks aesthetically good and natural, and I have the technical ability to then execute the correct operation to achieve this.”

Of the many aesthetic areas that interest Dr. Brenner, revision breast surgery encompasses all operations that correct problems from previous breast surgeries, including breast implant malposition, breast implant size change, correction of capsular contracture, and even breast lift procedures that correct sagging tissue after childbirth for women with implants. “When you perform these sorts of complex secondary, tertiary, or even quaternary procedures it is very different from the original surgery. There is invariably a great deal of scar tissue, so the breast tissues do not behave as they would in a primary procedure. As a result, the techniques that you use have to be more advanced and your technical ability has to be better than the average surgeon.”

In one memorably complex case, Dr. Brenner took on a female patient whose revision surgery tested both his technical and artistic skills. “She’d had breast surgery about 15 years ago, and the original surgeon, at the patient’s request, decided to put four separate breast implants into each breast,” he explained. “On one side, the implants became infected and they had to be removed, but for some reason the surgeon left the implants in on the other side. She was walking around for years with severe asymmetry. She’d had multiple procedures and the breast tissues were severely distorted. The actual rib cage was concave from the pressure of the implants resulting in a true chest wall deformity, in addition to the obvious breast deformity. This type of a revision case is no longer an aesthetic operation. It is really more of a chest wall and breast reconstruction case. It is not like a more straightforward case of a 20-year-old woman who comes in for her first pair of breast implants. Revision cases are a whole different category.”

Beyond even the most challenging reconstruction cases, a larger issue for any plastic surgery practice is how to remain successful during a sluggish economy. Practicing in a high-end market such as Beverly Hills means adapting to economic ups and downs. “It is not as much of a challenge now as it was during the downturn in 2009,” he expressed, adding that in spite of the economy, “people still need plastic surgery, whether for reconstructive, or purely aesthetic reasons.”

In response to changes in the business environment, Dr. Brenner has moved to a more economical business model that consolidates a carefully chosen group of surgeons and other specialists under one roof. “A large number of plastic surgeons are traditionally in a one person practice,” he said. “I’m not. I do have my own practice and I have my own staff, but I share an office with a group of surgeons.”

“It is rare to find a group of plastic surgeons that all get along with each other,” he shared. “In our group, each surgeon has their own practice and their own niche. However, all of our surgeons work together very seamlessly, both in and out of the office. I trust my surgical associates implicitly and I think that is very important.”