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Edward J. Ruane, M.D., Joins St. Clair Hospital Staff, Bringing Innovative Plastic Surgery Options
By Nancy Kennedy

Edward J. RuaneWhen Edward J. Ruane, M.D.,was in medical school at Duke University, he knew he would eventually become a surgeon. But it was not until he was a third-year medical student, when he first encountered plastic surgery that his plans crystallized. “I shadowed a pediatric craniofacial surgeon who was working with a pediatric neurosurgeon, treating an infant with a condition called craniosynostosis, a deformity of the skull,” he recalls. “That case was pivotal in terms of introducing me to the diverse and collaborative nature of plastic surgery.”

After medical school, Dr. Ruane completed his residency in plastic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh, one of the top-ranked programs in the country, where he also was appointed to serve in his final year as Administrative Chief Resident. Now he is happy to remain back in his hometown of Pittsburgh where he has joined St. Clair Plastic Surgery Associates, in practice with Robert Bragdon, M.D., FACS.

Plastic surgery, says Dr. Ruane, is one of the most diverse specialties in medicine. “Plastic surgery is unique in that it is not limited to one organ or organ system; we operate on every part of the body. It is a field built upon surgical principles and devoted to applying those principles to solving difficult problems.”

While plastic surgeons are perhaps best known for their cosmetic work, the field is rooted in reconstruction, Dr. Ruane explains. “Cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery are not that different; one informs the other. A reconstruction has to look good aesthetically, and a cosmetic procedure attempts to reconstruct and restore normal anatomy.”

Dr. Ruane appreciates being able to offer the full gamut of plastic surgery procedures to patients in the Pittsburgh region. He especially enjoys working with breast cancer patients and patients who have undergone massive weight loss and need body contouring for the removal of excess skin. “These patients have worked so hard, and it’s rewarding to be able to help them reach their goals,” he says. He has plans to bring to St. Clair a new approach to breast reconstruction known as microvascular breast reconstruction, in which tissue from the patient’s abdomen is transferred to the breast area. “There is no implant or prosthesis; just the woman’s own tissue is used in the reconstruction.”

Another innovative treatment that Dr. Ruane offers is the treatment of migraine headaches that are associated with specific trigger points. The treatment involves a tiny incision and decompression of an underlying nerve. “It’s a one-time procedure, and it’s minimally invasive. For patients who are candidates for this type of surgery, 70-90% of them should see a significant reduction or total resolution of their headaches.”

Plastic surgery is a growing field and one that is deeply satisfying to Dr. Ruane, both professionally and personally. “I have an artistic side; I was the kid who was always drawing,” he says. “There is no better feeling than removing a postoperative dressing and seeing a patient’s response when they get that first glimpse at what they identify as their best self – or their wholeness restored – and they are overjoyed.”

Dr. Ruane and his wife live in the city and enjoy Pittsburgh’s art and music offerings, outdoor activities, and restaurants. “I have a lot of ties to Pittsburgh, and I’m overjoyed to be back here and at St. Clair Hospital.”

To make an appointment with Dr. Ruane, call (412) 572-6164.

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