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Getting to Know Dr. Gronka Outside of the OR

dr__gronkaHave you met Dr. Gronka? Perhaps he has helped you make a few enhancements to your appearance, or maybe you’ve see him while visiting Advanced Aesthetics. But did you know he is the drummer in a local cover band? Or that he loves to bake bread?

We recently got to sit down with Dr. Gronka to hear a little bit more about his life in and out of the operating room.

What drew you to the field of medicine?

For a time, I considered going into law. But after getting a taste of it and seeing some of what I thought were shady practices, I quickly decided law wasn’t the field for me. I had just started thinking about medicine as a career when I had the opportunity to visit an operating room.

The surgeon took me under his wing for a few days, and I got to see the office, how things run, how surgery was performed. I just had a feeling in my gut that this is what I wanted to do. I also enjoy taking care of people, so it was, and is, a natural fit.

What inspired you to pursue the plastic surgery path?

In medical school, I decided I wanted to be a general surgeon. I am someone who enjoys making an immediate fix, so other specialties that involved spending lots of time investigating what’s wrong followed by long-term treatments didn’t seem natural to me. Surgeons, however, go in and just fix it. Whatever needs work, they take it out, repair it, replace it, put screws in it. That seemed much more my speed: fix what’s broken.

So, I pursued a full general surgery residency program. Unfortunately, by the third year of staying up all night and finding myself surrounded by people who just were not happy, I had to reconsider. During this time, I had a lot of exposure to plastic surgery, and we even got to perform some trauma cases under the guidance of community-based plastic surgeons in Miami.

What I saw then, and what still holds true now, is that being a plastic surgeon requires a lot of technical ability and almost as much skill working with people. That’s what interested me.

What do you love most about your work?

I love that I’m not just a plastic surgeon—I get to be a psychiatrist, nurse, parent. There is a lot of decision making involved, and I enjoy being challenged both clinically and surgically in terms of figuring out what the right course of treatment is. As an added bonus, performing cosmetic surgery largely means working on healthy patients, which is a fun and interesting change for a physician.

Since I’m part of my own practice and we own the practice, I get to take part in the administrative side of things as well, which I actually enjoy. I like the logistics of being a physician and making the practice work, making what we do more efficient and trying to take on the challenges of the changing healthcare world.

If you weren’t a plastic surgeon, what would you do for a career?

Anyone who’s heard of our band Gravity is going to expect me to say I’d be a rockstar, but honestly, I’m probably not good enough to do that! Golf, food, and music are three of my top passions, but we’ve ruled out musician, and I’m not sure how far I’d get with golf, so I would likely do something in food. I love cooking, and I am continually attracted back to food. I’m in the “bread phase” of my cooking experience and would love to take a bread course in San Francisco.

Are there any new or upcoming technologies or treatments that you’re excited about?

I’ve been performing a lot of breast reconstruction surgeries lately, so I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about those techniques and how far we’ve come with breast implants. Newer generation breast implants are becoming more available and have really increased options for rebuilding a natural looking and feeling breast mount for women who have had mastectomy.

In the past, there have been difficulties with filling out the upper part of the breast during breast reconstruction and advances in both newer implants and techniques have allowed us to create a significantly better result.

Outside of the Operating Room

When you’re not at work, where are you most likely to be found?

Usually at home, on the golf course, or band practice. I try to spend as much time at home with my family as possible, and golf is a great way to have fun and unwind. Our band usually has one or two gigs per month.

If you had 2 weeks to yourself, what would you do?

I think I would take one of those golf cruises. I’ve been looking at ones in Asia; you literally get off of the boat and just play golf all day in really interesting locales, like Thailand and Korea.

What do you love about Georgia?

I like that you can enjoy Atlanta from a near distance without feeling like you’re living right in the middle of a metropolitan area. I’m also a fan of the fall, winter, and spring weather here.

What are some of your favorite places to eat in your area?

Now that’s a hard question! I recently tried Cooks and Soldiers, a sister restaurant to Iberian Pig, which is a Spanish basque tapas restaurant on the West Side. The food was great, though the ambiance was a bit loud for me. The best meal I’ve had in Atlanta was at Seegers, which is unfortunately now gone. Restaurant Eugene, Buckhead, and Bacchanalia are some of my favorites.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Our favorite place we’ve played so far is Frederick Brown Amphitheater in Peachtree City. It’s an outdoor amphitheater where we got to open for the Bee Gees! Well, not technically the Bee Gees because only one of the original members is alive, but it was still one of the most fun shows we’ve done so far.

What’s in your fridge at home right now?

As a cook, it’s going to be a long list! Aside from all of the usual things, I have several different kinds of hot sauces, two sourdough starters, homemade pastry dough, Kerry Gold Irish butter, some awesome leftovers from Superica…the list goes on and on!

Do you have anything you’d like the Advanced Aesthetics community to know about you?

Seems like we’ve covered pretty much everything here, but I bet not many knew I wanted to be a professional basketball player when I was in high school. It obviously didn’t work, but I remember exactly when I realized it wouldn’t. I had made the All Star Team, and we were fortunate enough to play with this great team from Philadelphia.

Well, these guys were good. They were dunking and playing circles around us. I remember just standing there thinking, “oh, what is that?!” By the first quarter, we were down by probably 25 points—and that was us playing our very best. I knew then that a professional basketball career was just not in the cards for me!

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