Live Learning from the Masters: The 49th Baker Gordon Symposium

by Anup Patel MD, MBA and Sammy Sinno MD

The plastic surgery calendar is full of many wonderful meetings annually. The Baker Gordon Symposium is no exception. A tradition exactly as old as the Super Bowl, Baker Gordon always attracts the biggest, best, and brightest plastic surgeons who come together in gorgeous downtown Miami to teach aesthetic surgery. There are key features unique to this meeting that truly make it a must for those seeking to enhance their ability to perform cosmetic surgery.

Live Surgery

Perhaps, the most attractive feature to the Baker Gordon Symposium is the rich tradition of live surgery. The meeting begins with Dr. James Stuzin, the Co-Editor of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, introducing his patient then performing an extended SMAS facelift live, which is telecast in real time to the audience. Dr. Rod Rohrich, the Editor-in-Chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, served as the moderator between Dr. Stuzin and audience members. It was amazing to see not only how effortlessly and efficiently the surgery was performed, but also the educational experience derived from the ongoing discussion between the surgeon and moderator. Having the opportunity to see the entire surgery start to finish is a real treat as you never lose sight of the big picture amidst countless technical details. Performing live surgery in front of hundreds of audience members is an incredible honor and challenge, which all the faculty members handled masterfully.

Interactive Learning

This year’s conference focused on nuances in aesthetic surgery. There were countless “aha moments” such as Dr. Stuzin demonstrating the retaining ligaments during a facelift, Dr. Timothy Marten detailing his inter-tragal facelift incision, or Dr. Rohrich highlighting how to take advantage of cartilage warping of a dorsal onlay rhinoplasty graft. The conference room is equipped with microphones, encouraging audience members to ask questions during presentations and live surgery to clarify nuances. This “Socratic-style” setup encouraged experts from around the world to discuss, debate, and learn from each other. Dr. Jack Fisher took the interaction to an entirely new level, selecting residents randomly in the audience to assist him in his board-style case discussion, filled with great laughs and learning.

The faculty members were all very eager to extend their teaching beyond the time limits of the Symposium. During lunch, in between breaks, and after the daily events many world experts would patiently answer questions from international attendees eager to learn. One live patient injectable demonstration by Drs. Rohrich, Steve Fagien, Arthur Swift, and Dr. Stuzin went well over 45 minutes past time as the faculty members took extra time to draw and elaborate the delicate periorbital vascular anatomy relevant to injectables (Figure 1).


Figure 1: Live injectable demonstration with detailed anatomic discussion


Focus on Safety

One of the take home messages of the meeting was the responsibility of the aesthetic surgeon to practice safety first with all procedures. All faculty members continually emphasized this in their discussions. For example, in the above mentioned injectables demonstration, faculty members highlighted safe and danger zones that all injectors should know, in addition to what to do in case of an adverse event. The importance of hemostasis, DVT chemoprophylaxis, and minimizing wound complications were common themes. The moderators encouraged audience members to always practice safe and evidence-based medicine.


Driven by the Masters

The driving force of this great meeting, of course, is the faculty who devoted countless nights and weekends to make Baker Gordon stellar. Dr. Stuzin and Dr. Rohrich remain the moderators for every lecture and live surgery, and with their unsurpassed knowledge and incredible wit combined the excellent faculty make this meeting truly stand apart.


In conclusion, the Baker Gordon Symposium is a must for any resident, fellow, or practicing plastic surgeon who wants to learn the most innovative, safe, and effective way to execute aesthetic surgery (Figure 2). We cannot wait for the 50th installment next year!


Figure 2: Anup Patel MD, Rod Rohrich MD, James Stuzin MD, Sammy Sinno MD

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