Health & Beauty

Berish Strauch, Path Breaker in Reconstructive Medication, Dies at 90

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Berish Strauch, a plastic surgeon whose pioneering procedures and units to reattach or change important physique components included one of many first toe-to-thumb transplants, a tool to reverse vasectomies and, maybe most notably, the primary inflatable prosthetic penis, died on Dec. 24 in Greenwich, Conn. He was 90.

His daughter, Laurie Strauch Weiss, stated the reason for his loss of life, in a hospital, was respiratory failure.

Starting within the late Sixties, Dr. Strauch was on the forefront of a revolution in cosmetic surgery, particularly microsurgery, by which docs use microscopes and precision devices to stitch collectively minuscule blood vessels, nerves and ligaments, some thinner than a human hair, stated Dr. June Ok. Wu, an affiliate professor of surgical procedure at Columbia College who accomplished her residency beneath Dr. Strauch.

Because the longtime chief of reconstructive surgical procedure at Montefiore Medical Middle within the Bronx, Dr. Strauch devised lots of the surgical procedures and applied sciences that are actually thought-about commonplace. Amongst different achievements, he pioneered methods to take away extra pores and skin from sufferers who had misplaced important quantities of weight from bariatric surgical procedure — a kind of excessive tummy tuck.

After a New York Metropolis firefighter misplaced his thumb in 1976, Dr. Strauch tried to reattach it. When that proved inconceivable, he recommended one thing extra radical: taking one of many man’s massive toes and stitching it instead of the severed digit.

Not solely did the surgical procedure work, however inside a number of months, the firefighter was again on the job.

“I don’t suggest a transplant for an individual who has misplaced a finger,” he instructed the newspaper Midnight in 1976. “A thumb, sure, as a result of the opposable thumb is what differentiates us from beasts.”

Dr. Strauch was among the many first fashionable surgeons to make use of leeches to assist management blood circulate after surgical procedure and take away necrotic tissue — a seemingly medieval approach that, he stated, couldn’t be improved upon by human innovation.

“In case you needed to exit and design an instrument to take away blood,” he instructed The New York Instances in 1987, “you couldn’t design one which was extra suited than the biblical leech.”

He left an particularly deep mark on the sector of urology. He created the so-called Strauch clamp, a tool used to help in reversing vasectomies. And in maybe his most exceptional however no much less vital innovation, he invented the primary inflatable penile prosthesis.

Synthetic penises had been in use for hundreds of years, both as replacements for indifferent members, as therapy for erectile dysfunction or to be used in intercourse reassignment surgical procedure. However typically they have been both completely flaccid or completely erect — neither of which was an particularly satisfying association for anybody concerned.

Dr. Strauch devised a prosthetic penis connected by a tube to a reservoir of fluid implanted contained in the physique. When the affected person wished an erection, he may activate a pump to fill the prosthesis (although to reverse it, he would want to work the fluid again into the reservoir manually).

He received a patent for his invention in 1973, after which he bought it to an organization referred to as American Medical Techniques. One of many firm’s founders, F. Brantley Scott, then additional developed the product — and within the annals of medical historical past has since obtained many of the credit score.

Berish Strauch was born on Sept. 19, 1933, within the Bronx, the son of Herman and Anna (Weiss) Strauch. His father reduce males’s fits in Manhattan’s garment district; his mom was a milliner.

As a toddler, Berish, who glided by Bob in casual conditions, accompanied his dad and mom to their work. He later stated that watching them wield scissors and knives for hours impressed his curiosity in surgical procedure.

He attended the Bronx Excessive College of Science and graduated from Columbia, the place he studied pre-med, in 1955 and from its medical college in 1959. After fellowships at Roosevelt Hospital in New York and Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., he returned to the Bronx to hitch the employees at Montefiore. He turned chief of cosmetic surgery there in 1978.

Dr. Strauch married Rena Feuerstein in 1955. She died simply eight weeks earlier than he did. Together with their daughter, he’s survived by their son, Robert, himself a famous hand surgeon; seven grandchildren; and his sister, Renee Freed. The Strauchs lived in Rye, N.Y.

Although he by no means sought consideration, Dr. Strauch performed a minor however vital function in one of many greatest tabloid tales of the Nineties.

In 1992 Amy Fisher, a youngster from Lengthy Island, shot a girl named Mary Jo Buttafuoco within the aspect of the pinnacle after confronting her over Ms. Fisher’s affair with Mrs. Buttafuoco’s husband, Joey.

Mrs. Buttafuoco survived, however she suffered huge facial injury, together with partial paralysis. Listening to about her case, Dr. Strauch reached out to her lawyer and supplied to assist.

“This is among the most fruitful areas of drugs,” he instructed Newsday in 1992. “Previously 20 years there was an entire new degree of information.”

He carried out intensive surgical procedure on Mrs. Buttafuoco in early 1993, returning most of her face to regular — although it was too late to reverse intensive nerve injury.

“She’s going to nonetheless have some parts of the paralysis primarily of the decrease lip,” he instructed Newsday after the surgical procedure. “However she’s a phenomenal woman, and she or he’s going to look nice.”