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Ohio State to add plastic surgery department

Ohio State has had plastic surgeons for more than 60 years, but now plastic surgery will have a department of its own.

The OSU Board of Trustees approved the new department at its quarterly meeting Oct. 28.

“I know what you’re thinking — ‘Dr. 90210,'” said Dr. Michael Miller, chief of plastic surgery at OSU.

Unlike the Beverly Hills-based show about cosmetic surgery, however, Miller said OSU’s department will focus on reconstructive rather than cosmetic surgery.

“We have cosmetic surgery, but we don’t emphasize that as our main focus,” Miller said. “There are tons of plastic surgeries that are often overlooked but actually bring the most value to health care.”

The trustees also recognized OSU plastic surgeons Drs. James Boehmler, Pankaj Tiwari and Miller, who together received awards in January for reconstructive surgeries. One surgery involved constructing a new esophagus for a young boy. The other was a pelvic reconstruction.

The new department will start operations in 2011, but officials have not yet set a specific date.

OSU has performed plastic surgery since hiring its first plastic surgeon in 1947, but the board’s department approval will further establish OSU’s name in the medical field, some say.

“Only the best plastic surgery units are departments,” said Dr. E. Christopher Ellison, chairman in the Department of Surgery. “It’ll be recognized and noted nationally and will put us out in front of a lot of universities.”

Miller said department status is important for budgeting in the university and indicates a higher status. He said the department will also likely attract students to the university.

“Undergraduate students will have increased opportunities to participate in plastic surgery as our department grows,” Miller said. “Our graduate students will as well, in engineering, mathematics — things that you wouldn’t necessarily think of directly relating to medicine.”

Some students think OSU having another department that establishes the university in the medical field is good for both students and the school.

“I think plastic surgery is a good thing,” said Daniel Stammen, a fourth-year in civil engineering. “If you get a burn, you won’t be scarred for life.”

At least one student likes Miller’s ambition to be the best.

“It’s a pretty daunting task,” said Steve Nosan, a fifth-year in computer science and engineering at OSU. “I can’t complain, though, because it’ll be my alma mater.”

Miller’s goal is to establish OSU as one of the top plastic surgery programs, and he feels this can be accomplished by getting the department the best educators, researchers and plastic surgeons.

“OSU has a growing reputation — it has been a very stable program,” Miller said. “People are aware that it’s been a reliable program. But we’re trying to move upwards to become one of the leading programs. And I think we’ve done a lot to move in that direction.” 

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