The Art of Medicine

Dr. RoussoDr. Daniel Rousso’s fascination with the artistic played a major role in his life’s work.

By Joe O’Donnell  

Photo by Chuck St. John


If you look at it in a certain way, the face becomes a mathematical equation, absolute in its proportions, esoteric yet constant in its devotion to the lines and angles that constitute beauty.

Dr. Daniel Rousso has spent his career perfecting that equation, using the skills of a surgeon and the soul of an artist to create within patients an enhanced self image.

“Facial plastic surgery really appealed to me from the very beginning,” he says. “I always have liked to do things with my hands. My father was an artist and sculptor; my sisters are both artists. I was also always interested in art and science. I gravitated toward medicine because of that interest but the more artistic aspects of medicine. I geared my career and training in that direction from the very beginning. You have to be artistically inclined to be good at facial plastic surgery.”

Rousso grew up and attended school in Atlanta, where he completed his medical residency at Emery. He came to Birmingham for additional training in plastic surgery. “The way the city of Atlanta was in the years that I was growing up is very similar to the type of lifestyle we enjoy today in Birmingham,” Rousso says. “It is so easy to get around, easy to enjoy. In those days, and I think even today, Birmingham was such as well-kept secret. But after six months here, we did not want to leave.”

Rousso is board-certified by the American Board of Facial Plastic Surgery, the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery, and  the American Board of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery. He is also a clinical assistant professor in the department of surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Rousso served on the board of directors of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS), where he also served as president in 2009.  He is one of the founding members of the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery (ABHRS) and the  International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS); he also served as president of the ISHRS in 1999. He is a director of a fellowship program that trains young physicians under the auspices of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Internationally renowned for his contributions to the field of facial plastic surgery, Rousso limits his practice to this area. He commonly performs facial rejuvenation procedures including face lifting, eyelid surgery, nasal plastic surgery, cheek/chin augmentation, laser surgery, endoscopic surgery, and hair restoration procedures including the traditional strip method and NeoGraft follicular unit extraction (FUE).

The science of facial plastic surgery is artful at its core. “There are specific proportions that are aesthetically pleasing and attractive to the human eye. These are the basic parameters we go by, and they date all the way back to Leonardo DaVinci. It is mathematical.

“Computer imaging helps patients see the possibilities. It gives the patients an idea of what we have in our mind. In the past we could not do as much in that arena. Patients want to look better, more refreshed, but they don’t want to look like a different person. With my years of experience, I have a pretty good idea of what I can achieve and what I can’t. We work hard to make the whole experience comfortable for patients,” says Rousso.

Technology and techniques have all improved to the point where both the natural look of finished procedures and the speed and ease of recovery have substantially improved over the decades that Rousso has been in practice. “There are things that we do better now and recovery processes get people back to work and life more quickly. For example, eyelid surgery procedures are less noticeable and more natural-looking now, with patients bouncing back quicker. We can accomplish skin resurfacing with fractional lasers that we did not have in the past. We have newer technologies, quicker recoveries, new nonsurgical techniques like fillers that add volume to the face,” Rousso explains.

The practice utilizes technology like a noninvasive ultrasound device that tightens the skin around the face. Ulthera is a special kind of focused ultrasound that comes to a pinpoint and causes tightening of the collagen under the skin. No incisions. No recovery time. A fine laser acculift procedure is done through a fiber optic laser that melts fat and tightens the skin. All procedures can be done right in the office, which is a safe and simple way to do it for patients with no medical concerns.

“The thing that keeps me excited is the results we get and the reactions the patients have,” he says. “We can enhance and improve patients’ lives. I love to see the fruits of my labor. And I like to see how much the patients appreciate and enjoy it. That is what keeps me running,” Rousso says.

That energizing philosophy, coupled with a good staff, keeps Rousso running in the right direction. The staff at Rousso’s office includes eight full-time nurses and administrators and an additional eight part-time employees. “Many have been with me for more than 20 years. We work together really nicely as a team. They are an extension of my family. My philosophy on being successful in any business is to surround yourself with gifted and talented people.” Rousso says.
With a well-grounded specialization in facial plastic surgery, Rousso has also branched out into hair restoration, a procedure that can realize substantial benefits to the way men feel about themselves. “I wanted to focus on doing the best job I could do in hair replacement. We created a seminar way back in 1990 and brought in doctors from all over the world. We started a hair replacement society in 1993, and that has blossomed into a great organization, the Board of Hair Restoration Surgery,” Rousso says. “Many of the limitations of procedures have been overcome. No one can tell anymore that someone has had it done. We use individual grafts, no scars, no sutures. Of all the areas I work in, hair restoration has evolved more than anything. It is not even the same arena.”

An innovation, Neo Graft, is an outgrowth of this individual or follicular unit grafting. “For years, we removed strips of scalp that we would divide into small units under a microscope. This gave a more natural look but it left a scar on the back of the head and required sutures. Now, we use a one millimeter punch to harvest the units, and this leaves no scar and no need for sutures. It is very meticulous and tedious, but it mimics naturally occurring hair growth the best,” Rousso explains.

Rousso’s work in hair restoration has opened up his practice to male patients: “Men are becoming more comfortable with surgery,” he says. “The first thing that begins to bother men is the eyelids. Sometimes it is functional, interfering with vision, sometimes it is purely cosmetic. Laxity under the chin can be tightened up as well, and that is a very popular procedure. We also see men for general skin care—things like sunscreens, light peels, exfoliants, and restorative work done in the spa, for example.”

With more than a quarter century in practice, Rousso has been at the forefront of technical changes and technological advances, but he remains rooted in an age-old sense of aesthetics and the power of cosmetic procedures to change perceptions and self image.

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