June 5, 2014
Working as a board certified plastic surgeon has blessed me in many ways. I get to not only do what I love on a daily basis, but I also have the opportunity to work with some of the best patients around. One patient in particular, Austin, is one who has truly inspired me. His harrowing story is one that I had the pleasure of being a part of and I am excited to feature Austin in my first patient feature series.
The events that occurred on May 25, 2013 set into motion a story of adversity and triumph. As a rising sophomore at Bremen High School, Austin led an on-the-go kind of life. Sharing his father’s love of wrestling, Austin continued the family tradition and had his sights set on finishing the 2013 season with an individual state championship title. On that summer day in May, Austin was involved in a four-wheeler accident that could have easily derailed his dream, but Austin’s determination would later prove otherwise.
When Austin came to me during his initial consultation, he had one of the worst orbital blowouts I had ever seen. The left side of his face had been severely crushed: his maxillary jaw was fractured and there was essentially no eye socket left to support his eye. His mother Jennifer recalled, “I honestly wasn’t expecting the extent of damage Dr. Moyer described. I was petrified because it was my baby and it was his face. One of my good friends highly recommended Atlanta Plastic Surgery’s providers to help Austin with this surgery because she had been impressed by the results her own son had.” As a parent of two young boys myself, I genuinely connected with Jennifer’s concern for Austin and I was determined to help them during his arduous journey to recovery.
Austin’s surgery required precise execution and an experienced medical team to complete. My team and I surgically placed three synthetic plates, eight screws and a cheek implant in a single combination procedure to restore the infrastructure to the left side of his face. To reduce any visible scarring I was able to operate through the eye and the inside of the mouth. As I met with Austin for several follow-ups to monitor his progress, I was elated by how quickly Austin was healing.
What really inspired me the most about Austin was what he accomplished next. In addition to his facial procedure, Austin had broken both of his wrists and had to undergo surgery to repair those injuries. It was uncertain if he would ever be able to wrestle again with the extent of the damage he sustained and the nature of the sport which could easily compromise his recovery. Despite not being cleared by his physician, Austin focused on staying active and exercised every day for three months while he watched his teammates practice from the sidelines. Just a mere two days after he was cleared, and after only one team practice, Austin was back on the mat and competed in his first dual competition late in the season.
Five weeks later he went on to secure his first GHSA Class AA state champion title for his weight class, all while wearing a protective face mask that undoubtedly made it difficult to see out of. Jennifer described his tenacity best, “wrestling is his life, his motivation.”
Having to overcome what some might consider a large set-back served as a driving force for Austin’s success. The focus and perseverance he exhibited is certainly something to be admired and it has been such a humbling experience to follow his journey. Today the family is back to their constantly on-the-go routine. Jennifer recently shared, “We are extremely happy with Austin’s results. Everyone who knows about the accident is amazed at his recovery and the results of his procedure, especially since there are no scars. Austin is now driving and while the accident was horrible, I think it made him more self-conscious and aware of his surroundings.”
One of the most rewarding parts of my job is hearing about the great things that happen in the patients’ lives that I have the fortune of getting to know; all of their stories remarkable in their own right. If you are interested in sharing your story and being my next patient feature, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Be sure to also stay connected with me, Dr. Hunter Moyer, on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for future patient features and updates.