Saturday, November 7, 2009


Getting together with colleagues at a recent plastic surgery meeting emphasized the proud and long tradition of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Going back to World War I, and progressing through our current conflicts around the world, plastic surgeons have been on the "front lines" of surgical care and research. Pioneer plastic surgeons such as Sir Harold Gilles, Ralph Millard, John Converse, Joseph Murray, Paul Tessier, just to mention a few, have made a tremendous impact on innovations, teaching and transforming lives. As in any profession, "We stand on the shoulders of the giants who have gone before us". These pioneer plastic surgeons, along with many more, have been an inspiration to me and fostered my love for plastic surgery. It was my good fortune to have spent 2 years in Miami, Florida training with Dr. Ralph Millard, a world renowned plastic surgeon known for his reconstructive skills and cosmetic excellence. He is best known for his cleft lip and palate innovations, and devised the rotation advancement lip closure for babies born with this unfortunate condition. This technique is considered the "gold standard" around the world for closure of cleft lips. He has written numerous books and hundreds of articles on a wide variety of topics in plastic surgery, and many of his ideas and techniques have revolutionized the field of plastic surgery. In one's life, there are at best a handful of people that truly influence and transform an individual and challenge one's potential. My Dad would be on the top of that list, a wonderful man who spent 91 years on this earth, exemplifying the highest degree of ethics, care for others and kindness. My high school basketball coach, Mr. Al Belaire, and my current minister at First Presbyterian Church, Dr. James Miller are also on my list. I could write a long blog on the positive influence these people have had on my life. Without a question, Dr. Ralph Millard, my mentor in plastic and reconstructive surgery, has influenced and transformed my professional life and thinking. Not only was Dr. Millard a master in the operating room, accomplishing unbelievable feats on very difficult cases. but he was a stern teacher imparting the "principles of plastic surgery" - making you "think on your feet" when faced with very difficult reconstructive and cosmetic problems. In a future blog, I will talk more about these principles, because they not only apply to plastic surgery, but can be used in any profession. It was also rewarding to train with S. Anthony Wolfe, a cranio-facial surgeon who trained in Paris with the "father of cranio-facial surgery", Dr. Paul Tessier. As a plastic surgeon, I feel blessed to practice a wonderful profession, and have the ability and talent to provide outstanding cosmetic and reconstructive care for my patients. I truly stand on the shoulders of those giants and walk in the path promoting the proud tradition of Plastic Surgery.