Though Dr. John P. Neary switched from engineering to medicine after college, he continues to keep his passion for the discipline. However, he now focuses on people rather than structures.
“Starting out as an engineer, I had the mindset of wanting to rebuild things,” says Dr. Neary, who specializes in facial trauma, facial reconstruction, orthognathic surgery and sleep apnea at Louisiana State University in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. “I have always been interested in how things work and [how they] work together.”
A graduate of Purdue University, Dr. Neary attended dental school at the Ohio State University College of Dentistry, where he graduated cum laude, before pursuing his M.D. at the LSU School of Medicine. Dr. Neary chose to attend dental school, and subsequently medical school, to enhance and truly hone his skills as a maxillofacial surgeon specializing in facial reconstruction. His dedication has helped him earn consistent recognition as a Best Doctor by Best Doctors in America for more than a decade. He completed his residency in oral and maxillofacial surgery with LSU, a fellowship in facial cosmetic surgery at The Facial Surgery Center of the Gulf South and a general surgery rotation at Cleveland Clinic academic hospital. After 20 years in private practice in northeast Ohio, Dr. Neary returned to LSU to chair the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.
Dr. Neary’s primary focus at LSU is reconstructive surgery to address traumatic injuries, cancer and birth defects, as well as cosmetic procedures. He says his team is responsible for treating 90 percent of the trauma in the Gulf Coast, from Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas. “We also treat victims of offshore oil rig injuries and, unfortunately, violent gun-related crimes in the New Orleans area,” says Dr. Neary, noting that his team works very closely with the emergency trauma surgeons, emergency room doctors and neurosurgeons at University Medical Center, Touro Infirmary and Children’s Hospital.
In addition to trauma, Dr. Neary focuses much of his time on the treatment and management of sleep apnea. This condition occurs when the tongue is sucked against the back of the throat and blocks airflow, which causes oxygen levels in the brain to get dangerously low. According to Dr. Neary, sleep apnea affects a great deal of people — many of whom may be undiagnosed or have sought treatment but then put themselves at risk by refusing to wear a nasal CPAP machine. “Sleep apnea is a serious issue that can increase your risk for heart attack and lead to premature death,” Dr. Neary explains.
To treat sleep apnea, Dr. Neary and his team perform orthognathic surgery, repositioning the bones of the upper and lower jaw to increase the size of the airway. Dr. Neary says this procedure has a 95 percent cure rate among obstructive sleep apnea sufferers.
Though facial trauma reconstruction and complex orthognathic surgery are certainly challenging, Dr. Neary says his greatest challenge has been the change in health care and insurance coverage in recent years. “We often have to fight to get our procedures recognized by insurance plans as medically necessary, not just cosmetic,” he says. “It’s so frustrating when you have a patient who needs total TMJ joint replacement surgery to be able to perform basic functions like chewing, and have the insurance company say it’s not covered. We just have to keep fighting and educating policymakers, which takes time.”
Despite these challenges, Dr. Neary finds his practice extremely rewarding, especially when he is helping someone regain a sense of normalcy. “I’ve seen facial reconstruction change a patient’s whole life,” he says. “Their personality changes and they open up more. The face is a reflection of one’s self, and we give them back that confidence.”
LSU Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery: Faculty Practice
3700 St. Charles Ave., 7th Floor New Orleans, LA 70115 (504) 889-9893
Dental School: Ohio State University College of Dentistry; Columbus, OH
Medical School: Louisiana State University School of Medicine; New Orleans, LA
Residency: Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Louisiana State University School of Medicine; New Orleans, LA
Fellowship: Cosmetic Surgery, The Facial Surgery Center of the Gulf South; New Orleans, LA Internship: General Surgery, Cleveland Clinic; Cleveland, OH
Board Certifications: Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery by the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery