“As far as plastic surgery goes, [we are a] center of excellence in the community. We’ve each developed our reputations over the last several decades,” says Dr. Peter Vonu. “We draw patients [from] all over the East Coast and some throughout the country.”
The Plastic Surgery Center of Hampton Roads (PSCHR) is fully accredited by the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities. The practice’s primary Newport News office serves as its surgical center, boasting two expansive operating rooms, a patient recovery room and a refreshed office space.
The Williamsburg location of PSCHR, which opened in 2001 and moved into a new building in 2015, makes more room for minor procedures. Surgeons and staff travel between facilities, depending on their days and schedules, clearly maintaining their expansive patient reach throughout the Hampton Roads area.
Michael F. Zwicklbauer, MD, FACS, described Vonu as the last remaining doctor of the original PSCHR group. The doors to the practice first opened to the public in 1995, but “the roots of this practice go back almost 50 years,” Vonu explains.
Practicing medicine since 1988, Vonu was joined by multiple other surgeons — who no longer practice at PSCHR — to form the group. Now, PSCHR is home to four skilled surgeons: Vonu; Zwicklbauer; T. Randall Blanchard, MD, FACS; and Michael Lofgren, MD, FACS.
Blanchard says the dream of this career has always been with him. He started working at the Plastic Surgery Center in 1999, returning to his home area. He emphasized that there’s “not a whole lot of cookie-cutter surgery” in his expertise, making for more “mentally challenging” work.
When Lofgren returned to Hampton Roads in 2010, he joined the PSCHR team. Lofgren also enjoys the variety of the job and the ability to create “life-changing results, to be a part of that is the most satisfying thing.”
Zwicklbauer, nicknamed “Dr. Z,” began practicing at PSCHR in 1997 and describes his work as a “lucky decision.” He enjoys completing a “well chosen surgery on a well chosen patient and having the outcome that we both expect.”
As for Vonu: “I like the artistry; I like the challenge. No two cases are alike.”
“If you’re a general surgeon, there’s only one way to take out a gallbladder,” adds Blanchard.
The balance between plastic and reconstructive surgeries at the practice has shifted during the years PSCHR has been operating. The doctors note there’s been a slow transition into many more elective plastic procedures and operations than reconstructive ones. At 85–90 percent of their procedures, elective and cosmetic surgeries are much more frequently completed at PSCHR compared with medically necessary, reconstructive procedures.
Elaborating on the shift, Zwicklbauer says, “It’s a sad thing to say, but it’s largely driven by both insurance and what society is looking for, and they’re looking for cosmetic surgery, so we’ve drifted along with that.”
Some of their most common procedures include body contouring work done on breasts, the abdomen and the face. The surgeons perform facial reconstructions (for example, after cancer), sometimes collaborating at more prominent hospitals.
The doctors emphasize the importance of choosing a board-certified surgeon to receive much safer and more predictable results. Surprisingly, only some people seek plastic surgery through a fully accredited, board-certified surgeon or facility like what PSCHR offers. Their website welcomes clients with an encouraging statistic: its surgeons hold more than 90 years of experience in plastic surgery.
The doctors emphasize that plastic surgery is not only for women, movie stars and celebrities, as some might expect. “We do a significant amount of work on men,” Lofgren notes. “That never used to happen.”
As Vonu says: “Cosmetic plastic surgery’s purpose is to encourage people to feel better about themselves, not to make them a different person. We take pride in not being an assembly line.”
PSCHR has recently started working with Inspire Aesthetics, a plastic surgery pillar in Florida, allowing its network and expertise to expand even more.
Outside of work, each surgeon is a father. Collectively, their hobbies range far beyond their passion for practicing medicine — boating, competitive poker, enjoying the outdoors, aviation, hunting and the arts.
“We get along well as a group,” Blanchard says. “We realize together that we form a better product.” Affirming his connection with his colleagues, Zwicklbauer agrees: “I think we all are cut from the same cloth.”
TO THE POINT:
Plastic Surgery Center of Hampton Roads
Address: 895 City Center Blvd., Ste. 300, Newport News, VA 23606
Contact: Peter Vonu, MD, FACS