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MY TOUGHEST CASE: Dr. Hugo St. Hilaire, M.D., D.D.S., FACS
A master of many practices
Dr. Hugo St. Hilaire is a triple threat: as a Board certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon and Plastic and Reconstructive surgeon, he holds a doctorate in dental surgery (D.D.S.), a medical doctorate (M.D.), and is the only trained fellow at LSUHSC, and in the state of Louisiana, with such distinctions.
“It all started in dental school, but I learned and worked hard. I recognized the need for additional training in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Craniofacial Surgery. Despite the long road, it was clearly the right thing to do,” he said.
It is this dedication to his career and his commitment to providing the best care to his patients that Dr. St. Hilaire tries to not only instill in his students, but also each of his six children. “As I teach my kids and my residents, you should not take shortcuts with your education. It will translate to shortcuts in patient care.”
Originally from Canada, Dr. Hilaire moved to New Orleans just two months before Katrina. He briefly moved to Baltimore afterwards, but returned to the city the following January. “My wife is from here, and we’ve had our kids here,” he said. “When I moved back, I kind of had to make my own way, but it all paid off.”
To treat the most complicated cases, Dr. St. Hilaire brings together his years of study, and the help of some new technology, to provide a treatment solution individualized to each case.
“I had an older patient who had required all of my training to care for his case of osteoradionecrosis of the mandible,” he said. “He had been treated for cancer successfully years before, and now 20 years later, as a result of his radiation treatment, his lower jaw had basically died, and the bones became brittle, leading to fracture.”
His patient would require vascularized bone transfer on both sides of his jaw, along with dental implants to replace lost teeth. Complicating the case was that the patient only had viable bone material from one fibula.
“We were able to pre-plan the surgery carefully using virtual surgical training,” Dr. St. Hilaire said. “We were able to make sure we took the exact amount of bone we needed, and plan exactly where the dental implants would be needed.”
In the end, the 12- to 13-hour long surgery was a success, and yet, Dr. Hilaire’s relationship does not end when the surgery is complete. “This patient had chronic pain, had been through cancer treatment. He knew about recovery and how tough it would be,” St. Hilaire said. “We talked him through it; we set up the right team. I still go visit him for follow-up checks. He is now a part of our extended family.”
LSU Healthcare Network
3700 St. Charles Ave., 412-1240
Children’s Hospital of New Orleans
200 Henry Clay Ave., 896-9857, NolaCraniofacial.com
| Chief, Division Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery; Associate Professor of Clinical Surgery,
Associate Professor of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, Louisiana State University, New Orleans