We chat with board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Rocco C. Piazza of Austin about his personal motivations and his practice philosophy at The Piazza Center, including his long-term commitment to patients and their overall health and well-being.
Cliché: You knew at a very young age that you wanted to become a doctor. Can you recall a specific moment or experience that made you decide to become a plastic and reconstructive surgeon?
Dr. Rocco C. Piazza: When I was 8 years old, I saw a disabled child in church who was about my age. I turned to my mom and said that one day I was going to help others. A few years later, when I was in middle school, I severed my thumb pad in an accident and I was treated by a plastic surgeon in Austin, Dr. Rick Parker. When I first walked into his office, I saw photos of the charitable work he had done with a group called Austin Smiles repairing cleft lips and palates. I was in awe. Dr. Parker made a commitment to help others, both with cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. At that moment, I realized I wanted to be a doctor and help people in a similar way.
My passion is reconstructing breasts in women who have lost one or both breasts to cancer, and providing support to The Breast Cancer Resource Centers of Texas (BCRC), a local nonprofit. While the physical reconstruction of a breast is extremely challenging, there is much more to it than that; the process is really about restoring the confidence of a woman who has lost a big part of herself. This takes a really supportive team—BCRC, friends, family, plastic surgery team, general (breast) surgeon, oncologist, and more. That understanding is crucial to treating a patient with breast cancer, and this process is a long-term one. The bonds my team and I build with these women are very strong and lasting, and we consider this aspect of our work to be one of the most important and rewarding things we do.
So far in your career, what do you feel have been your greatest contributions, and what are your long-term goals or aspirations as a plastic surgeon?
My greatest contributions are the lasting relationships I create with my patients, which are based on trust—trust earned by providing results and an experience that exceed their expectations. I follow my patients for many years, and they often return through the different stages of their lives for other treatments and procedures.
A personal passion for excellence drives me to achieve exceptional results for my patients. I have had this drive for as long as I can remember, and my long-term goals center around it. I strive to stay on the cutting edge of new surgical techniques and technology while achieving excellent long-term outcomes for my patients. This sometimes means traveling around the world to spend time with the leading experts in plastic surgery.
During your initial consultation with clients, is it important to find out why someone is seeking your expert advice and guidance? If so, how does that impact the person’s decision to move forward and the subsequent results?
I think “why” is one of the most important questions I ask as a plastic surgeon. The “why” is quite involved and often very powerful. It is something that in many cases has been thought about for several years before even being verbalized. It is the reason patients do their research—usually online and via a friend or physician referral—which leads to them reaching out to us, then making a commitment for a consultation. All this ends in sharing a very personal “why” with my staff and me. If we don’t understand this process, then we are doing our patients a disservice and providing a less-than-ideal experience, in my opinion. And I strive to create the most exceptional patient experience in plastic surgery.
You offer patients a 4-year commitment, practically unheard of among other practices. What benefits are you seeing as a result? What can prospective patients expect from this dedicated level of service?
I believe that long-term follow-up is essential; in fact, our goal at my practice is to have patients for life. Education is a significant part of the plastic surgery experience at The Piazza Center. I spend a great deal of time talking about realistic expectations after surgery and how results change over time. Results do change over time, and this is very important to talk about up front. I am a firm believer that if you take good care of yourself, maintain excellent nutritional support, make a commitment to eating healthy and to exercising regularly, that your results will be enhanced and be long-standing. I follow my patients for years after surgery to (1) address any concerns that they may have with regard to results over time, (2) assess my work as a surgeon over time, and (3) monitor patients’ satisfaction with their decision to undergo plastic surgery. There is nothing that brings me greater enjoyment than lasting patient satisfaction.
Tell us about Piazza Essentials Program and the main benefits for those who join.
At The Piazza Center, we firmly believe that your at-home skin care routine is just as important as the treatments we perform in our office. The Piazza Essentials Program helps patients save on at-home products and in-office treatments that work together beautifully. Included in this program is dermaplaning every 6 weeks complimentary to our patients so that we can advance the effectiveness of TNS. Members also get special pricing on a year’s worth of TNS Essential Serum® and a variety of other perks and incentives.
TNS Essential Serum is an innovative combination of growth factors, antioxidants, soluble collagen, peptides, and other specialty ingredients. This formulation has been clinically shown to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and skin discoloration all while enhancing the skin texture and tone. We also know it is important to exfoliate the top layer of skin so these amazing ingredients can penetrate more deeply. That’s where dermaplaning comes in.
Dermaplaning is the process of using a sterile surgical blade to gently exfoliate and eliminate surface layers of dead skin cells and unwanted vellus hair (peach fuzz). With each treatment, we are carefully removing 2 to 3 weeks of dead skin cells, along with environmental toxins. Oftentimes, dermaplaning is used to enhance other topical treatments being done immediately afterward and, in particular, to help with the absorption of chemical peels and antioxidant skin treatments. Further, dermaplaning softens the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and allows you to get the most out of your daily skin care routine and especially the use of growth factors like TNS Essential Serum. It also reduces pore size and hyperpigmentation, as a large majority of skin pigment sits in the dead skin cells that make up the surface of our skin. All of this improves your complexion, making it even and radiant!
Piazza Essentials Program members also get discounts on BOTOX® Cosmetic, earn rewards points for the Brilliant Distinctions® program from the makers of TNS Essential Serum, and get invitations to exclusive offers throughout the year for added savings on injectable services and other skin care treatments or products.
You believe that a healthy lifestyle is key to looking your best. Do you offer additional services or consultations that combine the work you do with living a healthy lifestyle?
We are moving this direction, and in the next 2 years we will have established Austin’s first center for aging successfully. We are most excited about this, and I feel this is where we are headed in the future of medicine, especially in plastic surgery. We will be adding specialists to help patients develop and execute a plan for healthy living, eating, and exercise, while assessing current overall health and hormone balance—a truly comprehensive approach to aging successfully.
What do you like to do during your free time?
I love anything related to boating and spending time on Lake Travis and Lake Austin. The nice thing about Austin is that boating is a year-round hobby. There is nothing more remarkable than looking at the stars at night that shine through the clear winter sky while drifting freely on Lake Travis. I also love taking advantage of the Austin area’s opportunities for leading a healthy lifestyle: swimming at Deep Eddy Pool or Barton Springs, running the trail around Town Lake, waterskiing on Lake Austin, and teaching cycling at Pure Austin Fitness, just to name a few!
For more information, visit www.thepiazzacenter.com
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More Than Plastic Surgery: Featured image courtesy of Kara Trombetta