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Face Value: How One Riley Plastic Surgeon Changes Lives

Blog Face Value: How One Riley Plastic Surgeon Changes Lives

His choice to aide others by becoming a plastic surgeon wasn’t a coincidence. “I was born with a cleft lip and underwent a repair when I was young,” admits Dr. Gerety. “While I was too young to recall the experience, my parents' memories are vivid. They still remember how scared they were at the time.”


Patrick Gerety, MD spends his days in brightly lit suites carefully cutting and stitching. Meticulously reshaping and repairing little faces at Riley, the pediatric plastic surgeon specializes in working on those born with cleft palate or lip, ear deformities or kids suffering from facial lacerations, among many other things. The surgeon skillfully nips, shifts and molds tissue while in surgery--and in the process, many say, powerfully changes children’s lives.

Looking back, Dr. Gerety says, medicine was a family matter. “Growing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico as a child in a large family, both my father and grandfather were surgeons, so the calling to become a doctor came naturally.”

However, he says, it wasn’t a calling he was immediately drawn to. “After high school, I opted to get an engineering degree at Texas A & M University. I focused on bioengineering.” Struck by the isolation an engineering lab could bring, Dr. Gerety decided to change gears. “Ultimately, I decided medicine was where I needed to be. I received my medical degree at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and then moved to Philadelphia to complete a plastic surgery residency at the University of Pennsylvania.”

After his residency, Dr. Gerety moved to Guwahati, India with his wife so he could perform cleft lip and palate surgeries though Operation Smile.

His choice to aide others by becoming a plastic surgeon wasn’t a coincidence. “I was born with a cleft lip and underwent a repair when I was young,” admits Dr. Gerety. “While I was too young to recall the experience, my parents' memories are vivid. They still remember how scared they were at the time.”

The admission is a personal one, something Dr. Gerety doesn’t publicize, but instead sometimes quietly turns to for perspective. “Having been in those shoes, I can say the experience definitely influenced me. It’s something I keep in mind whenever I first meet my patients and their families. I instantly think about their potential mindset and try to do whatever I can to put them at ease.”

Societal pressure and the surgical process can also be a challenging combo for older children. “When kids are older (school age to teens) it can be difficult for them to verbalize the worries they have about their appearance and how it compares to their peers,” he says. “My personal experience gives me a heightened sense of awareness. I pick up on these subtle clues. So I strive to make sure these patients and their families’ transition through the surgical experience as smoothly as possible.”

Approaching his one year anniversary (Dr. Gerety started at Riley Hospital for Children on September 1st of last year), he’s quick to express his enthusiasm and appreciation for the brand.

“What’s incredible about Riley is that it draws almost all of the state’s patients for what we do. My partner and I see the majority of Indiana’s pediatric craniofacial patients and that’s amazing. The spirit of Riley’s craniofacial team is also incredible. They are so collaborative and enthusiastic. It’s clear to see they all truly enjoy what they do and I feel privileged to be a part of that spirit and team.”

When he’s not practicing at Riley Hospital for Children or IU Health (Methodist or North), Dr. Gerety and his wife (who works as a nurse anesthetist at Riley), enjoy being outdoors with their two young daughters.

By Sarah Burns

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