Kenneth K. Kao, MD
I speak: English, French, Spanish
My gender: Male
Where I practice
My parents immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan to provide better opportunities for me and my sister. While it was challenging for my mother and father to adapt to the customs and language of a new country, they ultimately achieved success and helped us to realize our potential. I’m fortunate to have inherited their work ethic and respect for diversity, both of which I carry with me each day.
I grew up in New Jersey and attended the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York, where I met my wife. I completed my general surgery training at UCLA Medical Center, and continued with plastic surgery residency at UCLA Medical Center, where I was chief resident. My wife and I wanted to raise our kids in a healthy, family-centered environment, so we decided to move to Oahu.
About my practice
After college I was a Peace Corps volunteer, which helped me appreciate even more the power of plastic surgery to improve quality of life for so many people around the world. For example, a cleft lip, which may seem to be primarily a cosmetic concern, may actually create a huge burden on a child, his or her family, and their community. During my training as a general surgeon, I further learned how congenital defects, cancer, or trauma could adversely affect patients. Breast cancer survivors taught me to appreciate that quality of life could be as important as quantity of life. To address these issues, I chose to become a plastic surgeon to help make people whole again, through both reconstructive and aesthetic principles and techniques.
My research experience has encompassed multiple aspects of general surgery, vascular surgery, and plastic surgery. I have published and presented on endovascular techniques, quality of life, tissue engineering, craniofacial anomalies, fat grafting, and post-operative pain control.
To ensure that I stay up-to-date, I set aside time every day to read up on the conditions that I encounter in my practice and to review the latest in surgical procedures.
My wife and I joined the Hawaii Permanente Medical Group because of its dedication to patient-centered care. It’s also nice to be part of a large group practice that supports me so I don’t have to spend time worrying about the business of medicine. The excellent team environment and technology provided here allow physicians and providers to focus on patients and their wellness.
The medical system can be confusing to patients. I try to look at things from their point of view and imagine that I’m speaking with a family member or close friend. I try to educate and reassure them, and treat each person in the way I’d like to be treated—with compassion, integrity and excellent care.
How I thrive
To stay healthy and fit, I run, swim, surf, scuba dive, and weight train. In my spare time I also enjoy travel and amateur photography. Most of all I value spending quality time with my family.