Dr. Clint Merrick, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Eau Claire, combines cutting-edge medical techniques with an old-fashioned approach to patient care.
Dr. Merrick’s practice, he explains, goes well beyond the cosmetic procedures that may come to mind when people hear the term plastic surgery. “We operate from the top of the head to the bottom of the feet, and we operate on 1-day-old to 100-year-old people,” he says. Specializing in plastic surgery, he says,“has provided this diversity which makes my practice of medicine so rewarding and interesting every single day. I’ve been doing it 20-something years now, and every day is new and exciting. We just absolutely love what we do.”
Plastic surgery encompasses reconstructive and cosmetic procedures, from breast reconstructions and face lifts to cyst removal and nerve repair. Dr. Merrick also specializes in hand surgery.
“We treat our patients like our family, providing personalized conservative care to everyone.”
“In the hand it’s a real marriage of form and function,” he says. “Our job is to take bones and tendons and ligaments and nerves and blood vessels and in some cases the skin and the coverage that’s required to get wounds to heal and apply that to the hand.”
After receiving his medical degree from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, Merrick completed his surgery internship, general surgery residency, and an integrated plastic surgery training program at the University of Kentucky. During that time, he grew interested in operating on hands and completed a hand-surgery fellowship at The Kleinert Institute in Louisville, Kentucky.
Dr. Merrick says repairing patients’ hands that have been damaged by trauma is particularly gratifying. “(The hand is) so integral to everything we do that the gratification comes from seeing (patients) come in and say ‘I’m back to work, I’m able to cook again at home, my hand looks normal again, I don’t feel self-conscious in public,’ ” he says. “And so there’s a lot of psychological aspects, vocational aspects, and aspects related to their daily life that we’re able to restore.”
But healing hands is just part of what Dr. Merrick does. He also treats patients with burns, breast cancer, skin cancer, and other concerns, including congenital abnormalities such as cleft lips and nasal deformities.
“It’s amazing to see these people afterwards,” he says. “They feel like they’re part of society again, and that too is super gratifying.”
In addition, Merrick’s cosmetic surgery practice encompasses breast augmentations and reductions, face and brow lifts, rhinoplasty, tummy tucks, and much more. In addition to these surgical approaches, Dr. Merrick’s office is also staffed by aestheticians, who provide services such as clinical facials, and injectionists, who offer Botox and other injectables and fillers. All these treatments can help patients gain and maintain healthy, beautiful skin.
And in partnership with a local orthopedist, Dr. Austin Crow, Dr. Merrick is the western Wisconsin pioneer of a new treatment called adipose-derived stem cell therapy, in which components of a patient’s abdominal fat and blood are injected into joints, a process that can improve arthritic pain and delay the need for joint-replacement surgery.
Amid such innovative, 21st-century procedures, Dr. Merrick also provides the personalized bedside manner of an earlier era.
“That’s one of the areas that we really excel in,” he says. “My practice is committed to providing a truly old-school approach to medicine. Literally everybody who comes in feels like they’re a part of our family. Every one of my patients has my cellphone number.” Dr. Merrick adds that this provides a “distinctly different experience” than going to a big medical network where patients may be treated as numbers, not individuals.
“We want them to feel comfortable,” he continues. “We want them to leave with no questions unasked.”
Dr. Merrick’s clinic is currently on West Hamilton Avenue in Eau Claire, but in March he plans to relocate to a newly remodeled space on Oak Ridge Drive. There, he will have a more extensive operating room, allowing him to provide more procedures in-house.
But Dr. Merrick emphasizes surgery isn’t always the best option. “Our No. 1 goal is to avoid surgery when we can,” he says. He will pursue conservative approaches first, rather than pushing patients toward more invasive – and costly – treatments.
“We focus on doing the right thing medically regardless of the effect on the business,” he says.