Meet Ryan M. Diepenbrock, DDS, FAACS
Thursday, August 25, 2016
Dr. Ryan M. Diepenbrock, Facial Cosmetic Surgeon and Program Director of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery for the United States Air Force, is our AACS featured member of the month. Get to know how his fellowship training helped him on the surgical front lines of the United States Air Force.
Describe your career so far as a cosmetic surgeon. Are you just starting out or have you been practicing for a while?
I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to attend and complete an AACS Fellowship in Facial Cosmetic Surgery under the instruction of Dr. Brent Kennedy. After I completed the fellowship in 2013, I returned to Travis Air Force Base as the only fellowship trained facial cosmetic surgeon in the United States Air Force. As an attending in the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Department, my job is to train residents in facial cosmetic surgery as well as make them proficient in both hard and soft tissue management. With a practice limited to cosmetic surgery, the residents have broad exposure to contemporary surgical and non-surgical facial cosmetic procedures.
What about cosmetic surgery interested you initially and what excites you about the field today?
I attended a residency where I had significant exposure to facial cosmetic surgery. As a second year resident, I was on an Otolaryngology rotation with an attending who allowed me delve deep into functional and cosmetic rhinoplasties. This experience stoked the fire and drive to read, observe, and ask questions. As my residency training progressed, I was privy to many cosmetic procedures which further stimulated my passion. I loved the fact that patients were coming to see me because they wanted something done, not because they needed something done. I felt, as I do today, that my elective cosmetic patients were more compliant, healthier, and happier than non-elective patients. That patient population complemented my personality well.
Why did you become a member of AACS?
I first became a Resident member of the AACS to be part of a truly multi-specialty organization dedicated to advancing the sub-specialty of cosmetic surgery. I was heavily influenced by Drs. Joe Niamtu and Mike Will, both who have core specialization in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Both are leaders in the world of cosmetic surgery and emphasized perseverance in pursuit of my goals.
After fellowship training, full membership to the AACS and gaining Fellow standing in the organization was a natural course. I encourage all of my residents today, to join as Resident members of the AACS.
What do you value most about your membership in AACS?
Of most value is the interdisciplinary relationship with colleagues from multiple primary specialties. No single specialty owns the face, and we can all learn from our colleagues. I have met so many great friends with core specialty training unique from mine, and all are willing to share their secrets and air their weaknesses. I have no reservation calling my Oculoplastic friends to ask detailed questions about periocular surgery. I can text my Dermatology colleagues and ask about skin resurfacing techniques, or email my Otolaryngology comrades to discuss intricacies in rhinoplasty surgery. There is no other professional organization where multiple specialties can put bickering and competition behind, and focus on advancing cosmetic surgery for the patients.
Best piece of advice you have received in your professional career?
“The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” As a single degree Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, it can be challenging breaking into a world dominated by physicians. You have to be an advocate for yourself and the specialty. Competency is not based on a degree or certificate, but based on experience and credentials.
What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in cosmetic surgery?
Be your own worse critic. Critique every case you do. Take personal notes about each surgery; what went well, what technique you did, what you didn’t like. Take pictures at every follow-up. Follow-up with each patient and compare their pre- and post-op photos. Be hard on yourself and don’t settle for good results; strive for excellent outcomes. The cream will rise to the top. Obtain photo release consent forms, create a portfolio, and don’t be afraid to show it!
Who has been your greatest mentor thus far in your career?
Dr. Joe Niamtu has been without a doubt my greatest mentor in facial cosmetic surgery. Since I first contacted him as a third year resident, he has always been available to provide advice, answer questions, and offer assistance in any manner he could. He has been influential in inspiring me to help the next generation of facial cosmetic surgeons. I also appreciate the support and education from Drs. Kennedy, Will, Nayak, Cuzalina, and Emer.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I love my time with my wife and four children. I enjoy skiing, tennis, golf, camping, and guitar. I also coach youth football and baseball. With 4 active children, time is precious. I am blessed that I have such an amazing wife who lets me balance being a husband and father with being the best surgeon I can become.
Want to submit a member to be featured? Send your suggestion(s) to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line Member Spotlight.