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Let’s Get to Know: Dr. Jeffrey Kenkel—ASJ’s new Editor-in-Chief

Aesthetic Society Members
Aesthetic Society Members

After 15 years as Associate Editor of ASJ, Dr. Jeff Kenkel becomes Editor-in-Chief. Our society leadership, staff, and Editorial Board are thrilled to welcome Dr. Kenkel in his new role. We look forward to his new ideas and innovations and to taking the Journal to the next level.

Dr. Foad Nahai and Dr. Jeff Kenkel
Dr. Jeff Kenkel and his furry friend
Dr. Jeff Kenkel and his furry friend
What advice would you give to your younger self? And to those starting out in plastic surgery.

Always remember how lucky we are to be not only physicians who have the privilege to care for patients but plastic surgeons who can help change our patients lives for the better. Take a moment, occasionally to celebrate your successes.

Was there one plastic surgeon you looked up to starting out? Who was it?

I have been influenced by so many people and feel lucky to have the mentorship I have had. From a plastic surgery standpoint, I always admired and cherished my relationship with Fritz Barton, Jr MD. He has been an incredible sounding board throughout my career both personally and professionally. He was seldom excitable, always driven, held himself to the highest possible standards, and a great person to speak to about everything and anything. I feel like I am the surgeon I am from incredible surgery mentors who taught me the importance of dedicated patient care, maintaining one’s integrity, using evidenced based medicine to guide patient care.

Tell us about the one lesson you wish you had learned earlier.

Balancing one’s personal and professional life is nearly impossible. I wish I took more time off to vacation with my family, particularly when my kids were young. You can never get that time back. I am fortunate to have an incredibly supportive family and we all enjoy sharing in each other’s successes.

Dr. Kenkel celebrates his 60th birthday with his wife Suzanne and two children, Matt and Ashley
Dr. Kenkel celebrates his 60th birthday with his wife Suzanne and two children, Matt and Ashley
What do you do in your spare time? Please explain a little… 

I love to be outside almost any time except when it is cold. I enjoy wake surfing in the warmer months. Our surf boat is close by, and we can be on it and the lake within 20 minutes from the house. I love working out, lately on the Peleton. As part of our recent empty nest push, we have bought an RV and enjoying tailgating at Auburn football games and exploring Texas. We traveled to Fredericksburg, Texas last year and loved it! We live on a golf course so I should be a lot better than I am but always enjoy playing, especially with my wife Suzanne. We go on the 80s cruise every year which is a theme-based cruise. It has nearly 20 acts and each night has a theme. Costumes are a must. I think I own about 10 wigs and of course plenty of eyeliner.

While Dr. Kenkel celebrated his society presidency with a 70s theme, his passion is 80s music
While Dr. Kenkel celebrated his society presidency with a 70s theme, his passion is
80s music
What place(s) mean a lot to you?

We have been fortunate to travel to Africa a few times over the years and have found it to be an incredible escape from the daily life we lead. Disconnecting and watching nature up close and in personal is incredibly grounding and peaceful. We try our best to maintain that as we get back to the real world. but lose it quickly.

What was the best book you read in the last year?

Facemaker by Lindsey Fitzharris

Most surprising app you depend on.

Surf line Wave and Surf reports for sunrise, high tide and waves 

Do you listen to music while in surgery? If so, what is your favorite?

Absolutely: either alternative new wave 80s music or contemporary country (my wife has introduced me to!)

If you were not a plastic surgeon, what one profession would you want to try?

I love cars and can’t wait to learn more about combustion engines and build one.

What do you consider your biggest accomplishment?

Being a supportive and loving husband and father

I couldn’t do without…

My wife and best friend, Suzanne.

The Kenkels attend nearly every home game in their RV and love Auburn. War Eagle!
Both of the Kenkel children attended Auburn University. Even though Matt and Ashley are no longer there, the Kenkels attend nearly every home game in their RV and love Auburn. War Eagle!
Dr. Kenkel has been lucky to work clinically with an amazing team. Marjorie Giddings has worked with Dr. Kenkel for nearly 25 years.
Dr. Kenkel has been lucky to work clinically with an amazing team. Marjorie Giddings has worked with Dr. Kenkel for nearly 25 years.
The best bit of advice I ever received was…

As you climb that ladder of success don’t forget to enjoy reaching the accomplishments achieved rather than reaching for the next rung/step


How did you get involved as the plastic surgeon for The Dallas Stars? How long have you been the team’s plastic surgeon? What does this entail?

I was asked to cover a few games while I was a resident by one of our faculty. This continued for several years during my early years in practice, and when he stepped down in 2003, I took over the plastic surgery duties. The game has changed so much over the past twenty-five years as have the injuries. Bony injuries are rare and most of what we see are lacerations from sticks and pucks and occasional skates. 

What is the biggest difference between working with athletes vs. your regular patients?

I think the biggest difference is what types of restrictions you impose on them and how compliant they are. I think we tend to let them back into their professional activities much quicker than we would normally, unless the magnitude of the injury prevents it. For example, when dealing with a nasal fracture I would typically not let patients get their heart rate up for several weeks and avoid contact and ball-related sports for nearly 6 weeks. Hockey players will play a game the next day. Some may elect to wear a full face shield, most will not.

What are some of the unique questions/ concerns that your athletes ask you and how has their mindset changed your perspective in the way you operate?

I do not think the questions from athletes are any different. Even hockey players are concerned about their appearance!

What are some of the common injuries or issues that you encounter as the team’s plastic surgeon? How do you approach treating these injuries?

I feel lucky to be part of an incredible medical team for the Dallas Stars Hockey Team. We have amazing trainers, doctors and dentists. We really all work together as a team and help each other out. Most commonly I see lacerations of the face but certainly we see these types of injuries all over the body. What worries me the most are the skate injuries which can be devastating. 

Occasionally we see nasal fractures and less commonly orbital fractures. Most of the things we do c an be done within our treatment areas within the home and visiting teams’ locker rooms. For fractures we take those patients to the operating room within 24 hours so they can work towards getting back to practice and games. One of the most enjoyable interactions I have had was many years ago when a visiting team’s player needed a few sutures. This was a well-known tough guy. I walked into the room and examined him. I then started getting things ready to suture him and he asked, “Hey doc, you mind if I smoke?” I told him no, but would prefer him not to be smoking while we were suturing him up. He then proceeded to light his cigarette with a blow torch. (they used to bend their sticks with blow torches). Of course no local anesthetic was used. He was truly old school!

Could you share any memorable experiences or success stories where your expertise as a plastic surgeon made a significant difference for a player’s recovery or career?

Hockey players and their families are some of the nicest people I have ever met. I have been blessed to work in a sport that I truly love. I get the most gratification out of helping the team’s family members as they navigate through challenges requiring plastic surgery and some outside of our specialty.

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