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60 years of offering independent, private practice care

Green Bay Plastic Surgical Associates was started in 1963 by area’s first plastic surgeon

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May 5, 2023

GREEN BAY – In the last 60 years, Green Bay Plastic Surgical Associates (GBPSA) – which was established in 1963 by Harold J. Hoops, Jr., Green Bay’s first plastic surgeon – has witnessed significant change in the plastic and reconstructive surgery space.

Today, the practice is led by Eugene H. Schmitt, III and James Lee – both of whom are board-certified plastic surgeons and members of the American Society of Plastic Surgery.

A little background
Since it was started by Hoops six decades ago, only four other surgeons have led GBPSA.

Lee said GBPSA’s operation itself is another differentiator that sets GBPSA apart from others – being it is an independent, private practice, not affiliated with any larger healthcare system. 

// J. Hoops, Jr.

“We don’t have to meet a quota, although we always have targets as a business, but that’s not No. 1,” he said. “At the end of the day, I don’t have a certain benchmark (to meet) and can (spend time) forming patient/doctor relationships. It brings me a lot of satisfaction because I can go to bed at night and lay my head down knowing I did the best for my patients. It affords an opportunity to develop relationships with our patients, and I value those.”

Schmitt – who joined the practice in 1985, followed by Lee in 2006 – said GBPSA isn’t pressed to treat someone “who we don’t think is going to get a good result or who has unrealistic expectations.”

“We (focus) on the patient, and that model has worked well all these years,” Schmitt said.

To make that a reality, Schmitt said GBPSA also owns and operates an independent, freestanding ambulatory surgical center – Green Bay Surgical Center (GBSC), which was established in 1977.

GBSC – which is Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) accredited for all plastic surgical procedures – is in the same building as the practice clinic, which Schmitt said allows patients to receive treatment in a private and intimate setting.

GBPSA assumed full ownership of the surgical center in 2009.

In addition, Schmitt said GBPSA surgeons have surgical privileges at HSHS St. Vincent Hospital, HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital Medical Center, Bellin Health and Aurora BayCare Medical Center.

Plastic surgery
Named after the Greek word plastikos, which means to mold or give form to, Schmitt said plastic surgery is often associated with breast enhancements, rhinoplasties and tummy tucks.

However, he said GBPSA performs about 50% cosmetic surgeries (which is the reshaping of normal structures of the body to enhance the patient’s appearance and self-esteem) and 50% reconstructive surgeries (which are abnormal structures of the body caused by congenital defects, developmental abnormalities, trauma, infection, tumors or disease).

Though, there are many “gray areas,” the doctors acknowledge.

One rhinoplasty may be purely aesthetic in nature and be considered cosmetic surgery, Schmitt said, while another may be medically necessary to address a deviated septum, for example.

“We’ve always done a combination of cosmetic and reconstructive work to meet the needs of the community,” he said. “My cosmetic work is primarily facial surgery, but I also do rhinoplasty and otoplasty (ears) as well as breast surgery and body contouring. And we see a lot of patients with skin cancer as well.” 

Lee said he performs a lot of breast procedures, cosmetic and reconstructive alike.

The doctors note that in plastic surgery, many surgeons perform a wide variety of procedures.

He said although the practice’s mix has consistently weighed in at 50/50 reconstructive and cosmetic over the years, society’s attitude about cosmetic surgery has shifted significantly over the decades.

What was once thought of as the domain of the “rich and famous” and needed to be hidden has become much more acceptable to talk about and obtain. 

“We had one patient who left the office with a paper bag over her head with the eyes cut out when I first started in practice,” Schmitt said. “Now, we see all walks of life and patients who are much more open to (plastic surgery) and want to talk about it. For example, when we initially began doing Botox, nine out of 10 patients didn’t tell their significant other about it. The majority do tell their significant other today.”

Schmitt said those types of nonsurgical skincare and injectable options have surged in popularity, although he continues to perform more facelifts than any other procedure.

He credits not only the surgeons’ expertise and board certification but also the value the practice delivers for attracting patients, including repeat patients. 

“We try to be cost-conscious for patients, especially with cosmetic surgery,” he said.

Team approach
Schmitt said the practice’s team approach is also something that resonates with patients – which is often noted in patient surveys.

GBPSA employs 12 people.

Schmitt said the surgical center’s employment is drawn from about 15 people on an as-needed basis, bringing in medical personnel, such as nurse anesthetists, registered nurses and surgical technicians, as needed for procedures.

Doctors Lee and Schmitt said they acknowledge there are always new developments in the plastic and cosmetic surgery space – but said they take an intentionally conservative approach, waiting to see how things perform before adopting any new procedures, products or practices.

“We spend a lot of time determining whether (something) will reliably produce what we want, what’s tried and true and what is new and has promise,” Lee said.

For example, Lee said there are items in infomercials that say they are FDA cleared. 

“That is not the same as FDA approved,” he said. “We observe and have seen a lot over the years in the industry that hasn’t worked out… We value our reputation, and we strive to do the best for our patients. At the end of the day, we want to deliver healthcare and results and take care of people.”

// GBPSA practice is led by Eugene H. Schmitt, III and James Lee. Submitted Photo

Schmitt said the practice only began offering Botox, for example, about six months after it became available.

“We started using it only when it was shown to be safe,” he said. “We don’t want to promise things we can’t deliver.”

Schmitt said the practice has seen a consistent level of interest in services over the years, although there was a surge after the six-week period during which the team didn’t perform any cosmetic surgeries as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nationally, plastic surgeons reported up to a doubling in increase in demand post-COVID according to an Inaugural American Society of Plastic Surgery Insights and Trends Report: Cosmetic Surgery 2022.

“There was pent-up demand (after COVID) and with stimulus dollars, as more people had more money to spend on these things,” he said. “It goes along with the economy.”

A 2021 report on North America’s cosmetic surgery and procedure market suggests the market will witness a growth trend at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.34% between 2021-28.

Schmitt and Lee said they look forward to serving even more patients.

“There is more demand for plastic surgery from the general population now,” Schmitt said.

He said the practice draws patients from throughout the state, with the majority from Green Bay, Door County and northern Wisconsin.

The pair said because word of mouth is the practice’s main means of attracting new business, they appreciate people’s willingness to share candidly with friends and neighbors their experiences with GBPSA.

“A lot of people come to us for problems – low self-esteem and a desire to reduce or enhance their breasts, for example,” Schmitt said. “And the vast majority are pleased with what we do. It’s very fulfilling.”

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