Learning from the Masters

By Raj Sawh-Martinez, Justin Perez and Raja Mohan

 “The student of rhinoplasty never graduates.” 

For 33 years, the Dallas Rhinoplasty Symposium has rallied master surgeons who tackle the most challenging aesthetic procedure.  In 1997, the Dallas Cosmetic Symposium was initiated, creating a 5-day course where the world’s best surgeons gather to educate the next generation and learn from one another.  With a jam-packed schedule put together by symposia chairman Dr. Rod Rohrich, and lab co-directors Dr. Jamil Ahmad and Dr. Bardia Amirlak, this course has become an invaluable forum for all plastic surgeons—whether in practice or in training— to hone their skills.

This year’s symposium was yet another tour de force of surgical skill and impressive results from master surgeons.  One of the most unique aspects of these symposia is the tremendous dedication to teaching attendees about every single operative step! The combination of insightful lectures, surgical videos, and cadaver dissections makes this one of the most hands-on and comprehensive aesthetic symposia for plastic surgeons.

At the cosmetic symposium, dedicated sessions on current controversies in breast augmentation were expertly presented, including the latest yet to be published on basic science related to ALCL.  The challenge of performing one stage mastopexy-augmentation and revisionary breast surgery was demystified by faculty, and key steps were presented in detail.  The hottest topic in aesthetic surgery, buttock contouring and augmentation, sparked tremendous discussion from the world’s leading minds in fat grafting and buttock contouring.  From the techniques to the results, this session provided an up-to-date overview of emerging topics in aesthetic surgery for the audience.


As non-invasive techniques continue to rise, one of the key sessions reviewed  facial danger zones.  Understanding the anatomical implications and staying safe were key principles emphasized throughout the week since patient safety is paramount in plastic surgery.  Latest technological advancements and products were presented, and their use detailed; from fillers, neuromodulators, and neck adipolysis, to cellulite treatment, the entire range of new tools for the plastic surgeon were imparted.

Approaching the nose is a daunting task for residents.  Most plastic surgery training programs have limited exposure to rhinoplasty making it difficult for residents to build a solid foundation in understanding core rhinoplasty principles. At the Dallas Rhinoplasty Symposium, you’ll be walked through complex anatomy, a multitude of maneuvers (both open and closed), and gain insight into how every millimeter of movement can help you achieve an excellent result for your future patients.  The black box gets illuminated in Dallas and is the perfect introduction for any trainee interested in rhinoplasty.

Top rhinoplasty surgeons presented a framework for us to conceptualize the nose, including nasal anatomy and facial analysis. They also touched upon more nuanced topics, such as anatomical variations present in different ethnicities. Once you are shown the view from 10,000 feet, a systematic approach is taken and the audience is guided through the perspectives and approaches from each legendary surgeon’s experience. The candid, incredibly detailed explanations un-mask the maneuvers needed to address all nasal components and types of deformities.

Should I use my vacation time? Is it worth it? Am I too junior? Should I add the anatomy lab? Do I really want to do aesthetic surgery in the future? – let us help you settle the debate. DO IT.

As the experts on stage and in the audience discuss their refinements and results, two main themes emerge – be continuously critical of your results and stay safe. Being critical requires constant examination from the first pre-operative visit all the way up to 20-years plus after the primary rhinoplasty. The experts recommended keeping meticulous notes and data on each case and photograph the patients as frequently as possible to identify the effect of your intra-operative maneuvers and what could have been performed better.  Achieving mastery in surgery is a life-long endeavor, and the “ideal” is unachievable. Listening to your patients, addressing their needs, and managing their expectations is paralleled with a surgeon’s expertise and judgment in order to formulate a plan and prevent post-operative complications.

One of the highlights of the meeting was the lively and spirited debate wherein the masters rated each other’s results, similar to the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest!  The highly anticipated session, “What about this Result” pits each legend against each other as they dazzle the audience with their incredible results.  Spoiler alert: there were no tears and no hooks given this year – just spontaneous applause for each result, and awe as Dr. Dean Toriumi took the audience through the impressive transformation of a patient with cocaine nose and no septal cartilage, into a beautifully balanced and proportioned nose!

As you consider signing up for next year’s symposia, and you debate the following: Should I use my vacation time? Is it worth it? Am I too junior? Should I add the anatomy lab? Do I really want to do aesthetic surgery in the future? – let us help you settle the debate. DO IT. No question. And, yes, you’d be remiss to miss the anatomy lab.

  1. Residents get a discount – this is a great opportunity to take advantage of. You’ll make the attendings from all around the US and the world who are there, a little jealous and you’ll be happy as they tell you how great it is for you to be there early in your training. You can also obtain discounts on plastic surgery textbooks and instruments and even have them signed by the authors!
  2. In the anatomy lab you get dedicated teaching by world-renowned faculty on every key maneuver. They all come around giving you their opinion and explaining how to be better.  Imagine this experience to be the equivalent of getting a basketball lesson from some of the greats, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, etc.  #Priceless.
  3. Any nasal reconstruction – be it from congenital, oncologic, or traumatic defects – is based on, and benefits from, a detailed understanding of the aesthetic ideals and knowing what you can, and can’t achieve with specific maneuvers. James Smartt’s lecture on cleft rhinoplasty highlighted this brilliantly at this year’s symposium.


If you’re still not convinced, check out Dr. Anup Patel’s prior post as he highlights additional key perspectives and overviews the symposium.  We also saw a spike in social media at the meeting, likely due to the presence of social media legend, Dr. Olivier Branford!  He created the hashtags #DallasRhino16 and #DallasCosmetic16, so be sure to check out the twitter timelines, facebook posts, and Instagram feeds for TONS of pictures, tips, and advice directly from the most educational 5 days of the year.

Find out more information:

Dallas Rhinoplasty Symposium:


twitter: #DallasRhino16 

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1W6afhL

Instagram: #dallasrhinoplastysymposium

Dallas Cosmetic Symposium:


twitter: #DallasCosmetic16

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1pdp2gn

Essential Learning:

Baker Gordon Video- Rohrich on Rhinoplasty- http://bit.ly/21jkO2o

“The nirvana of rhinoplasty”

Dallas Rhinoplasty: Nasal Surgery by the Masters-  http://bit.ly/1Ub5DHX

Rhinoplasty Dissection Manual-  http://amzn.to/1p5cJ5d

Secondary Rhinoplasty by the Global Masters-    http://bit.ly/1M4HfRW

Rhinoplasty: A collection of PRS articles- http://bit.ly/1XePHE2


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