Compassion in Plastic Surgery: An Interview with Dr. Brian Pinsky, MD, FACS

by | Sep 27, 2022 | Issue 156, Issues | 0 comments

Dr. Brian A. Pinsky, MD, FACS, is considered one of the most recognized plastic surgeons in Long Island, New York. He has earned several awards since 2017, including the...

Dr. Brian A. Pinsky, MD, FACS, is considered one of the most recognized plastic surgeons in Long Island, New York. He has earned several awards since 2017, including the Castle Connolly Top Doctors and the Rising Stars award. 

But as important as this recognition is, his focus on and compassion toward his patients’ needs have formed a philosophy that guides him toward success. 

A Doctor in the Making and on the Move

For the past 10 years, Dr. Pinsky has practiced at the Long Island Plastic Surgical Group serving the New York City area. He was recently named the Chief of Hand Surgery at Nassau University Medical Center, the culmination of a journey along a career path that crisscrossed the country.

Originally from Akron, Ohio, Dr. Pinsky earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania. After receiving a post-baccalaureate certificate at Boston University, he was accepted into Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. 

“My father was an orthopedic surgeon, and I was leaning in that direction,” Dr. Pinsky shared. 

During medical school, one of the electives during his rotations was in plastic surgery, about which, at the time, he knew very little. 

“It was a mind-blowing experience! The first day I got there, they were doing a microvascular free flap,” Dr. Pinsky said.

 For a microvascular free flap, a reconstructive surgeon transfers a piece of skin, tissue or bone from one area of the body and attaches it to an injured area. They then connect microscopic blood vessels with sutures. 

“At the time, I didn’t know that type of surgery even existed,” Dr. Pinsky explained. “They let me sit there and watch the whole case, which was great. Those were the best two weeks of my entire medical school. I learned more about the specialty and the scope of practice, and I realized that I could do hand surgery. It was like orthopedics, but it encompassed so much more. So, after graduating in 2005, I matched into a combined plastic and reconstructive surgery residency at Mount Sinai hospital in New York for six years.” 

Hand surgery was a particular interest, and while he had some exposure to it during his residency, it wasn’t enough.

“I wanted to get certified. It’s one of the subspecialties that requires fellowship training to be taken seriously in the field,” Dr. Pinsky said.

He matched into a fellowship in hand and microsurgery at UCLA, so he spent a year in Los Angeles. 

“UCLA was awesome. There are wonderful surgeons there, and it was a great experience,” Dr. Pinsky shared. 

He returned to New York and joined the Long Island Plastic Surgical Group. And this is when he settled with his wife and family.

Finding a Mentor

Dr. Pinsky sought out a well-known plastic surgeon in Cleveland, Ohio, Dr. Bahman Guyuron, hoping to learn from an expert in the field. 

“I went to his office and introduced myself,” he said. “He set up a meeting and was very welcoming. He allowed me to spend some time in his office and operating room. I did some research with him, which helped open some doors for me.”

Dr. Bahman Guyuron is well respected internationally as an innovator and teacher in plastic surgery. He has developed techniques that improve the safety and effectiveness of surgery and treatments, while his publications and presentations have educated many in the field. As a result, numerous experts and patients consider him the best doctor in the country. 

“I have also been very fortunate to work closely with other inspiring surgeons and educators, such as Dr. Prosper Benhaim at UCLA and my senior partner, Dr. Roger Simpson,” Dr. Pinsky shared. 

The Medical Practice: A Dual Focus

“I have a very varied practice,” Dr. Pinsky said. “I would say about half of my practice is hand and peripheral nerve surgery, and the other half encompasses all of the rest of plastic surgery. I do a good amount of cosmetic surgery, with more and more of it these days.”

All of the rest‘ for Dr. Pinsky includes breast and cancer reconstruction plus abdominoplasty, rhinoplasty, breast augmentation and lift, carpal tunnel, arthritis and nerve repair. He combines cosmetic, reconstructive and hand surgeries.

“I’ve been doing some very interesting things recently with amputee care. For example, there’s a relatively new technique called targeted muscle reinnervation. It’s a way to handle patients with nerve pain after amputations,” he explained.

The innovative surgical procedure, targeted muscle reinnervation (TMR), reassigns the nerves of the arm and the hand, allowing patients with upper-arm amputations to control their prosthetic arms with just thought.  

A Patient’s Story

Dr. Pinsky recalled working with an amputee patient and how that patient changed his perspective on success. 

“A gentleman had a traumatic amputation from a motorcycle accident about 10 years ago,” he shared. “He was living in chronic pain and was on chronic, high-dose opioid medications. He couldn’t wear a prosthesis because of the quality of his amputation stump. So, I revised his amputation by shortening it to get better sub-tissue coverage. Then I rerouted the nerves using the TMR technique.”

Dr. Pinsky is happy to share that this man is now completely off pain medication and is a totally different person.

 “That’s one for the books for me,” he said. 

Helping Weight Loss Patients Realize Their Goals

Dr. Pinsky has a special interest in body contouring and reconstruction following weight loss. Many patients who have struggled with weight throughout their lives will ultimately find success from diet and exercise or even weight loss surgery. However, extreme weight loss will often leave patients with loose, hanging skin that can lead to rashes, infections and further issues with self-esteem.

Body contouring after weight loss typically involves a combination of skin excision and liposuction to achieve the desired result. 

“Every patient has a unique appearance after weight loss, and it’s critical to tailor your surgical plan to meet the needs of each patient,” Dr. Pinsky explained.  

Getting Involved

Dr. Pinsky shares his knowledge and expertise through participating in a variety of organizations. As an educator, he is the Site Director of the NUMC/Stony Brook Plastic Surgery Residency Program. Dr. Pinsky is also active with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the American Society for Surgery of the Hand and the Nassau County Medical Society. He has published in peer-reviewed journals and serves as a consultant reviewer for the Journal of Hand Surgery and the journal HAND.  

A Philosophy for Success

“I have a very varied practice. That’s the best part for me. I really like to do it all and do it at the highest level,” Dr. Pinsky said.

He realized that choosing to undergo elective surgery leaves a patient vulnerable, so, as stated on his website, “your surgeon should be approachable, dedicated to providing a private and comfortable space to discuss your concerns.” Every patient should have a positive experience.

His secret to success?

Tailor your approach to every patient,” he shared. 

Gaye Newton

Gaye Newton