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Kleinert Kutz Increases Awareness and Volume of Plastic Surgery Services

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LOUISVILLE The world renowned practice of Kleinert Kutz is synonymous with hand surgery. Less well known is that they also offer comprehensive plastic surgery services, such as breast reconstruction and aesthetic surgery, as well as nonsurgical cosmetic treatments like makeovers, skin care, and injectables. Kleinert Kutz has an excellent reputation for hand surgery, which seems to cloud the community’s understanding of what a center like theirs can offer.

“Plastics fits into the overall hand concept as part of a three-specialty team – plastic surgery, general surgery, and orthopedic surgery,” says Michelle Palazzo, MD, one of Kleinert Kutz’s plastic surgeons. “As a plastic surgeon, my training is quite broad, so I am able to perform just about any cosmetic or reconstructive procedure.”

Recently Kleinert Kutz used internet marketing, in the form of Groupon, to expand the marketing message of the practice. The on-line marketing effort resulted in over 200 new aesthetic patients, one of the best responses of the year for the Louisville area. Positive word-of-mouth advertising continues as patients experience what Kleinert Kutz has to offer and spread the word of their experience.

Palazzo states that referrals come from physicians or patients who understand the broad plastics capabilities that Palazzo and her colleague Luis A. Scheker, MD, offer. Patients are referred to Palazzo for plastic surgery services by dermatologists, internists, general surgeons, OB/GYNs, oncologists, and pediatrics for problems such as skin and breast cancers or excess breast or abdominal tissue. Often, patients who were previously referred to the center for hand issues are subsequently self-referred for their cosmetic concerns. Palazzo’s toxin and filler patients are primarily women in their 30s to 50s, but the number of men is increasing. “We’ve seen a big jump in office-type procedures for the last five years.” she says. “We have expanded our plastics services from New Albany, Indiana, to our new Louisville east end office on Chamberlain Lane and hope to add another plastic surgeon to the group in the near future.”

Plastic Reconstructive Surgery

Palazzo’s path to plastic surgery was an organic, albeit unusual, route. Pursuing a career in engineering via a master’s degree from the University of Illinois, she embarked on a master’s thesis testing breast implants. While observing breast reconstruction and implant surgeries, Palazzo saw the potential for utilizing her artistic interests and engineering skills. So she entered medical school at Southern Illinois University, followed by a residency in plastic surgery at St. Louis University. She was chief resident when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and went through breast reconstruction. This experience, she relates, fueled her desire to do a breast fellowship at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, and is her passion as a surgeon. She completed her training with a hand and microsurgery fellowship at the Christine M. Kleinert Institute for Hand and Microsurgery.

Joining Kleinert Kutz in 2006, Palazzo wanted to build up the group’s plastic surgery services, along with colleague Scheker. “About 75% of my time is spent with hand surgery patients and about 25% is plastics patients. I would like to see that grow to about 50% each,” says Palazzo. She currently performs surgeries at Kleinert Kutz’s surgery center and Floyd Memorial Hospital in New Albany, Indiana, as well as Jewish Hospital, Baptist Hospital East, and Baptist Eastpoint Surgery Center in Louisville.

As a fully trained board-certified plastic surgeon, Palazzo performs non-cosmetic procedures such as removal of skin cancers, breast reductions, and breast reconstruction. Breast reductions are a common part of her practice and are often a medical necessity because of the neck, back, and shoulder pain caused by the weight of large breasts. With breast reconstruction, “Patients who are left with a defect from breast cancer treatment may be candidates for reconstruction, which often involves surgery of the other breast for symmetry,” says Palazzo. She may perform immediate reconstruction after a patient undergoes lumpectomy or mastectomy and is still under anesthesia, or she may see a woman post-surgery who wants to improve the appearance of her breasts after treatment. Either way, most cancer-related surgeries, as well as breast reductions if significant enough, are covered by insurance.

In addition to toxins such as Botox and non-cosmetic procedures, Palazzo offers the full spectrum of cosmetic procedures such as tummy tucks, liposuction, facelift, eyelid lifts, brow lifts, fillers, and laser treatments.