The face, much like a museum-worthy painting or sculpture, is a work of art—delicate, unique and, in truth, in need of occasional maintenance to preserve its beauty. Whether to maintain or enhance, the decision to change one’s face should be entrusted with a gifted sculptor of sorts, one blessed with exceptional skills honed by some of the country’s finest medical institutions. In other words, someone like Jonathan Pontell, M.D., FACS.
Dr. Pontell is a board-certified facial plastic surgeon at the Aesthetic Facial Plastic Surgery Center Inc., which is based in Wayne. His training, experience and artistic sensitivity have combined to make him one of the region’s most sought-after specialists in all facets of facial plastic surgery. In fact, he is routinely featured in respected publications as one of the region’s best facial plastic surgeons, and his practice draws patients not only from the Philadelphia area, New Jersey and Delaware but also from across the country, as well as from international destinations.
“People come to me because I’m a specialist with a huge amount of experience; we do only surgeries and procedures of the face and neck, expect for a new device called Reaction,” says Dr. Pontell, who has been in practice since 2000. “Specializing in facial plastic surgery gives you more experience. I perform more than 100 rhinoplasties a year and probably 150 facelifts a year. I also do approximately 100 blepharoplasties. For me, that’s what I enjoy doing, and for the patient, they tend to get a better result by seeing someone who specializes.”
Dr. Pontell performs surgeries such as facelifts, less invasive mini-facelifts, rhinoplasty, blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) and brow lifts/forehead lifts. The two procedures he enjoys most are facelifts and rhinoplasties, because of the transformative results he can offer patients. As many as 80 percent of the facelifts he performs are of the less invasive kind, known as a mini-facelift, where the incisions are hidden in the creases around the ears.
“A lot of people with full-time jobs are opting for the minis, even though the traditional surgery is typically going to be slightly more effective and longer lasting,” he says. “In these kinds of cases, they will want to do the next best thing, and it’s my job as the surgeon to help them achieve the look they want in the best manner possible, considering all the variables.
“We also do a lot of revision surgery for patients who are unhappy with the results from previous surgery [done by another surgeon],” he continues. “Some patients may have had three or four, maybe five prior surgeries. Some patients come to us whose noses are a mess, including some which have collapsed. When they come to us, we do everything possible to fix their issues.”
In addition to surgery, Dr. Pontell provides a number of minimally invasive procedures, including laser skin rejuvenation and cosmetic injectables. The face and neck are clearly his specialty, yet he also offers options to help patients reduce their waistlines. Among the state-of-the-art options is Reaction, a cutting-edge, radio-frequency device for skin tightening, body contouring and cellulite reduction. Kathy McGehean, an aesthetician from Bella Gente Skin Care, performs the Reaction treatments in Dr. Pontell’s practice.
“[Reaction] heats the soft tissues of the body, which melts fat away and causes patients to make new collagen to tighten and lift the areas being treated,” he says. “It’s used on common areas like love handles, belly and inner thighs, buttocks, as well as the neck and face. We’ve gotten good results. … There are a lot of noninvasive devices that are smoke-and-mirrors, but we have been seeing very nice results with Reaction.”
Another procedure offered by Dr. Pontell for the past three and a half years is Ultherapy, a noninvasive, FDA-cleared ultrasound device for tightening the skin of the face. The device stimulates collagen production by focusing energy to heat the dermis, the dense inner layer of skin beneath the epidermis.
Regardless of the procedure, each of Dr. Pontell’s patients begins his or her journey with a consultation, through which Dr. Pontell learns their specific wants and concerns, and he also performs a thorough evaluation of their bone structure and skin condition. He believes the best results are achieved through personalized care and individualized treatment plans. Depending on the patient, a treatment plan might consist of a single procedure or several procedures performed during a single session.
Patients will feel at home from the moment they enter Dr. Pontell’s new 2,700-square-foot facility in Wayne. Dr. Pontell designed the new location himself, decorating the comforting and elegant space in period art-deco antiques and furniture, as well as with white and gray marble from Turkey.
“I designed it from scratch,” says Dr. Pontell, who says he inherited his aesthetic sense from his parents—one an artist, and one a woodworker. “It was a fun project and designed to set our office apart from others, and to make visiting us a memorable experience for the patient.”
Dr. Pontell’s skills have been honed from years of academic training after acquiring his doctorate at Jefferson Medical College, including a specialized residency in otolaryngology and head-and-neck surgery at the State University of New York Health Science Center at Brooklyn, as well as a fellowship in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. Also, for three and a half years he served the U.S. Army as director of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery at Tripler Army Medical Center in Oahu, Hawaii, as well as visiting surgeon to the Republic of the Marshall Islands and to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. During his military service, he traveled extensively throughout the country and spent time learning from “masters and leaders” in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery.
Today he performs about half of his surgeries in the office under local anesthesia and the other half, which require sedation or general anesthesia, at fully accredited surgical facilities equipped with the latest surgical and anesthesia technologies. Dr. Pontell and his team—nurses and anesthesiologists—have the experience and credentials to promote patient safety before, during and after surgery. Furthermore, Dr. Pontell personally oversees his patients’ recovery process to ensure that the healing process goes smoothly and on schedule.
Enhancing the structure and aesthetics of a patient’s face, however, requires much more than exceptional training and a deft hand; it also requires imagination. Considering his artistic background, it’s no surprise that Dr. Pontell chose facial plastic surgery as his vocation. He grew up “doing things that were creative,” such as wood carvings and works of stained glass, learning from those skills from his artistically inclined parents and applying them to his own interests. As he grew older, he began taking an interest in medicine and, specifically, surgery.
“I just thought surgery was such an amazing thing,” he says. “The idea of taking people apart and putting them back together with better form, function and appearance really appealed to me. I’m proud to offer an entire spectrum of treatments for facial rejuvenation, not only with surgery but also fillers, injectables and ultrasound and radiofrequency devices that have completely no downtime. I chose to specialize in facial plastic surgery—not just dabble in it, which some doctors do—because what’s more important than someone’s face?”
The Aesthetic Facial Plastic Surgery Center Inc.
303 W. Lancaster Ave., Suite 1A
Wayne, PA 19087
Photograph by Jody Robinson