I am often asked why did you become a Plastic Surgeon. I was even asked the same question recently by my 92 year old father, who is also a physician. I remember like it was yesterday…. I was stationed at Walter Reed Hospital in 1969 and got a first hand look at disfiguring facial injuries that were sustained during the Vietnam conflict. The Plastic surgeons there, were able to reconstruct and significantly improve these traumatic injuries in a way that inspired me. I loved working with my hands and knew that Medicine was the career choice for me. So on to medical school then general surgery, followed by Plastic Surgery training and I haven’t looked back since. What I like most about my specialty is the immediate gratification that I have molded, rearranged and repaired human tissue that has been altered by either trauma, disease, birth defect or father time. Its almost like painting a picture of the human body but instead of using colors, I utilize lasers, tissue transfer, cell manipulation, topicals, surgical instruments, implants, sutures and magnification. I’m often asked: what has been the most memorable moment in your career. Well, I was consulted to see a new-born boy and unfortunately he was born with a cleft lip and palate. The cleft in the palate was significant enough that it would definitely affect his speech development. With the help of an experienced assistant staff, we were able to repair the cleft lip and palate with particular attention toward restoring the structures required for speech. I followed the child for about 2 years but then lost contact because his family moved away. 16 years later I received a invitation to a high school graduation for the child and was able to attend and hear him give the Valedictorian speech for his class in perfect English. Currently I have focused on cosmetic surgery and research into the prevention of skin aging. On a more personal note my hobbies include golf, hanging out in Arizona, hiking, playing with my two grand-daughters, fly fishing in exotic places and a good book. Stay Well
Joseph W. Rucker M.D.
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