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Focus on Terry Myckatyn, MD

Terry Myckatyn, MD, is an assistant professor in the plastic and reconstructive surgery division. He specializes in plastic and reconstructive procedures, breast reconstruction, facial cosmetic surgery and body contouring.

Dr. Myckatyn sees patients at West County Plastic Surgeons of Washington University, 1040 N. Mason Road, Suite 124 and at the Center for Advanced Medicine, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Center, 4921 Parkview Place, 6th floor, Suite G.


What happened in the course of schooling to make you choose your specialty?

I started my undergraduate as an engineer, and then quickly switched to human physiology. I liked the medical part of the biomedical engineering, rather than the engineering part.

I became interested in cardiovascular physiology when I did an undergraduate thesis on that topic. Early into medical school I actually thought I would go into cardiac surgery. But at the end of my first year I had the opportunity to spend some time with plastic surgeons who were doing a reconstruction after a heart case. I was fascinated.

What drew me to plastic surgery was the fact that it is very technical as well as procedural. I would say that plastic surgery is one of the last true general surgeries. We operate on all parts of the body – from the feet to the face to the legs to the hands. It is more technical because we operate on the smallest nerves and the smallest blood vessels. We’re concerned about the functional component as well as the aesthetic component. We don’t just finish the operation and close up in any way – we’re concerned about how it looks.

Terry Myckatyn, MD and his wife, Allison Ogden, MD

What brought you to Washington University?

When I finished my first year of medical school at the University of British Columbia, I began to look for something to do the following summer. I wrote 110 letters -- 55 to vascular surgery programs and 55 to plastic surgery programs. Washington University responded with an offer for a summer job. I came to St. Louis and ended up working with two doctors – at the time they were editors of the plastic surgery journal. I spent the next two summers here in pediatric plastic surgery.

In total, I spent about four or five months at Washington University when I was a Canadian medical student. After I graduated, I started my surgical residency in Vancouver. It was during my second year as a resident, that Dr. Mackinnon had an opening in her lab. Because I had met her when I was a medical student, she asked me if I wanted to work with her for a year. While I was here, I met my wife who was a medical student at the time - she is now an ENT. I ended up making the transition from the Canadian program to the American program and finished my plastic surgery training here.

Which aspect of your practice is most interesting?

I think it’s evolved over time. Aesthetic or cosmetic surgery has become more interesting because the expectations of the patients are much different. Reconstruction can be very rewarding -- especially breast reconstruction. It makes a huge difference in someone’s life and the patient is just so grateful.

There are increased levels of expectations in cosmetic surgery. You can do a very good job, but never a perfect job. It forces you to be very critical of your work and to always try to make it better. I think cosmetic surgery doesn’t give you much wiggle room -- you really have to hit a home run every time.

What new developments in your field are you most excited about?
It’s an interesting time in cosmetic surgery. You have to temper your excitement about new developments because they are very market-driven.

I approach new developments with caution -- things such as Lipodissolve™, the latest laser treatment or a radio frequency device that claims to reduce fat without surgery. They all seem very exciting and certainly sound like they are going to revolutionize what we do. But sometimes in less than a year, these methods or devices are no longer used or being made. On one hand, we want to stay up-to-date with what is going on out there, but on the other hand, we want to protect our patients.

I think patients come to Washington University because they feel we’re good doctors and we have their best interests in mind.

What part of Canada are you from?

I’m from Vancouver on the west coast of Canada. It’s a beautiful area of the country and home of the 2010 Winter Olympics. I’ve lived there all my life, until the time I moved to St. Louis. My parents and three sisters all still live there.

The weather is definitely better there than St. Louis during the summer, but spring and fall here are very beautiful.

What has been your most gratifying award or achievement?

I received a scholarship for alto saxophone to attend the Berkley College of Music in Boston. Even though I didn’t go there, that is still my most gratifying award. I was also first alto saxophone in the Canadian National Jazz band. And, of course, my wife and I are thrilled with our daughter.

Dr. Terry Myckatyn and his daughter
What do you do when you are not working?

I try to spend time with my family – my wife and daughter. I also like to run and exercise. My hobby is computer video editing -- but I mostly make movies of my daughter. I’m sure the movies would be better if I had some time and more training.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

My dad’s advice to me was to be respectful and equally nice to everybody, no matter who they are. It has helped me relate and be more personable to people that I meet day in and day out.

What lifestyle change could most benefit our health?

Besides not smoking, it’s important to maintain a healthy balance of diet and exercise – which is just so boring, but so true. People need to be little bit more mindful of the number of calories they take in versus how many they expend in any given time. It seems very simple, but it is so hard for so many people to do. If everybody could modify their eating habits just a tiny bit, it would be a significant benefit to their health and lifestyles.

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Copyright 2015 Washington University School of Medicine