While he is sought after by some of New York’s most prominent women and men for his skill at cosmetic surgery, New York Plastic Surgeon Henry Spinelli, M.D., takes special pleasure in performing re-constructive surgery on people who have been disfigured – especially when they are young.
Eleven-year-old Nicole Colaco was playing with her golden retriever, Max, as she had many times before. But this time the 70-pound dog turned on her, crushing her skull and nose and the bones between her eyes, and ripping off her eyelids and nose.
Luckily for Nicole, surgeons at the hospital she was taken to called in Dr. Henry Spinelli, a nationally recognized plastic surgeon specializing in craniofacial and oculoplastic surgery. In a five-hour operation at New York Hospital Cornell Medical Center, Dr. Spinelli reconstructed Nicole’s face.
Using pieces of her skull that he chiseled off as a sculptor chisels marble, Dr. Spinelli rebuilt Nicole’s nose. The tendons that supported her eyes were reconstructed with wire and her tear ducts were remade. The end result: Nicole is whole again, back at school, playing ball and living a normal life.
To Nicole’s parents, and countless others who have suffered severe facial injuries, Dr. Spinelli is a miracle worker. He was the plastic surgeon called upon to rebuild the face, hands and chest of David Gelerntner, one of the victims of the Unabomber. Stories abound about his skill at performing the seemingly impossible.
Tanya Dnistran was coming home from a night out with her fiancé when her jeep struck something and rolled over, killing her fiancé. The bones around Tanya’s face and nose were crushed, causing her eyes to sink into her head.
While many surgeons would be unable to correct such a problem, Dr. Spinelli knew just what to do. He split off a piece of Tanya’s skull and created a wafer-thin bone to support her eyes, restoring Tanya’s face.
Jennifer Maxon, a 15-year-old involved in a severe car accident, had similar injuries to Tanya, but despite several operations surgeons in her home state of Pennsylvania could not repair the damage to the facial bones around her eyes. When she came to Dr. Spinelli two years after the accident, one of her eyes was sunken into her head.
Because Jennifer didn’t want bone removed from her skull, Dr. Spinelli split off pieces of her hip bone. To do so, Dr. Spinelli made a small incision in the bikini line and went in behind her intestines. Using the bone from her hip, Dr. Spinelli was able to bring her eye back into the proper position, making Jennifer’s appearance normal again.
“Young people like Nicole and Tanya and Jennifer have their whole lives ahead of them. When something destroys their appearance, they really can’t function,” Dr. Spinelli said. “By combining the techniques of re-constructive and cosmetic surgery, using bone and soft tissue, I can restore both form and function for them. It is tremendously rewarding.”
Listed among the Best Doctors in America for the Northeast Region, and the Best Doctors in the New York Metro Area, Dr. Spinelli is on staff at New York Hospital Cornell Medical Center and his Manhattan office is at 875 Fifth Avenue, on the corner of 69th Street.
He holds a medical degree from New York University and was formally trained in ophthalmology at Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital, general surgery at Columbia-Presbyterian and plastic surgery at New York University.