By Rudy Arispe
Dr. Constance Barone was a young girl when her mother taught her the finer points of sewing, like the patience and keen eye for detail required to stitch the elaborate costumes she wore for childhood ballet performances.
“My mom was an amazing and talented woman,” Dr. Barone said. “She would teach me how to look at a picture of a dress in a magazine and sew it freehand. When she was ill with breast cancer, I would show her Vogue magazine and tell her to pick a dress. I would go and buy the exact same material and make it for her.” Little did the young Constance know that decades later those sewing skills would prove invaluable when she was a general surgery resident at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia in the 1980s and performed a number of head and neck surgeries.
“I enjoy the creativity of plastic surgery and being on the cutting edge.” -Dr. Constance Barone
“My mother’s sewing instructions were actually very helpful in surgery,” said Dr. Barone, who was the third woman to complete Temple’s general surgery residency and the first woman to receive the Caswell Teaching Award as a chief resident in general surgery. “We didn’t have staplers back then. We did all of the delicate thyroid and vascular surgeries. We hand sewed everything.” It was two profound incidents, however, in her work and personal life that led Dr. Barone to alter her course and choose a different medical career path. The first involved a patient who suffered from a severe and aggressive cancer to her jawline, which required complete removal of her jaw.
“She was one of the sweetest people I have ever met,” Dr. Barone recalled. “I really wanted to help her with reconstructive surgery.” The second incident was the death of her mother from breast cancer that occurred on Dr. Barone’s 20th birthday. “She had a mastectomy and was embarrassed because there was no breast reconstructive surgery back then. But we were just happy to have her alive,” she said. “In the early 1970s, reconstruction options were poor, and most surgeons would not even discuss it unless you were free from cancer for at least five years. Breast cancer education and early screening for breast cancer in the early ‘70s were in their infancy.” Those two impactful episodes led Dr. Barone to concentrate on cosmetic surgery. Now as a leading and respected plastic surgeon in San Antonio with a state-of-the-art facility and spa, she offers surgical treatments for the breast, body and face, as well as non-surgical cosmetic procedures for both men and women seeking a more youthful appearance. “I enjoy the creativity of plastic surgery and being on the cutting edge,” she said. “For instance, I do clinical trials for companies to get FDA approval on the latest cosmetic equipment. Having my own accredited surgical center, I’m able to get state-of-the-art equipment without going through the bureaucracy of large hospitals.”
“I absolutely love being a plastic surgeon,” she said. “It allows me to be creative, be part of making patients self-confident and utilize the lessons taught to me by my mother.” -Dr. Constance Barone
The board certified plastic surgeon is also an instructor for NovaThreads, synthetic absorbable surgical sutures, which are considered especially effective for tightening the neck and jawline, according to its website.
Lately, Dr. Barone has witnessed an upward trend in both men and women seeking to maintain excellent skin care. “Sixty is the new 40,” she said, “especially if you maintain your looks and stay active.”
In fact, she has developed her own line of medical products for skin and body toning and to help erase brown spots and scars. Her spa also provides laser hair removal, skin regeneration, microdermabrasion and the newest in radio-frequency technology for skin tightening.
She is also proud to offer a revolutionary new treatment in hair transplantation called SmartGraft that she said leaves no scars and is done under a local anesthetic.
“The results are better graft take because the grafts get suctioned into a dish with the right humidity and temperature, so you have a 99 percent graft take,” she said. “It’s new for both men and women.”
Had she not chosen to become a physician, it’s likely that Dr. Barone would have followed in her family’s pharmacology footsteps. Her father, grandfather, an uncle and brother were all pharmacists. But it was medicine that fascinated her since childhood, she said.
After deciding to focus on plastic surgery following her completion of a general surgery residency, Dr. Barone completed a plastic surgery residency at New York University School of Medicine. “NYU is where I had a phenomenal experience because they were on the cutting edge of cosmetic surgery and microsurgery,” she said.She also did a post-doctoral fellowship in craniofacial surgery and pediatric plastic surgery at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. In 2004, the University of Texas Health Science Center recruited her, where she became the first woman professor and chief of plastic surgery until deciding to go into private practice in 2007.
When she’s not busy with patients, Dr. Barone occasionally finds time to take needle and thread to fashion pieces of fabric together to create beautiful garments – just like her mother taught her. “I absolutely love being a plastic surgeon,” she said. “It allows me to be creative, be part of making patients self-confident and utilize the lessons taught to me by my mother.”
Dr. Barone’s office is located at 9502 Huebner Road. For more information, visit baroneplasticsurgery.com or call (210) 614-0400.