Plastic Surgery Perspectives: Microsurgery—Interview with Dr. Peter C. Neligan

Stav Brown, BS1

Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel

Through interviews with leaders in the field, we present here the second piece in the series “Plastic Surgery Perspectives” dedicated to providing residents and medical students a perspective on future career options and possible fellowships within the field.

This piece includes contributions from Dr. Peter C. Neligan.

Why did you choose the field of plastic surgery and microsurgery in particular?

I chose plastic surgery by accident. I didn’t know what plastic surgery was as a medical student. However, I interned on the plastic surgery service and got hooked. I loved microsurgery when I was first introduced to it and immediately wanted to do it.

How has microsurgery changed since you started?

Microsurgery has become more sophisticated; at first, we were able to do replants, then graduated to filling holes. Instruments, sutures and microscopes improved as did our knowledge of anatomy so that we were able to develop more sophisticated flaps and also consider donor site morbidity.

What are your main interests within the field of microsurgery?

My areas of special interest include lymphatic surgery and perforator flaps.

Tell us about a clinical case or aspect that has influenced or shaped your vision of the field.

There is no one case that stands out; I just thought the concept and execution of microsurgery was elegant when I was first exposed to it.

What role does technology play in microsurgery?

Technology is very important. When I started my career, our options were limited by sutures, instruments and microscopes. These have all improved significantly. Robots are now being developed for microsurgery and I think we’re about to see some exciting new developments. Also “heads up” systems are starting to appear.

What most excites you when you anticipate the future of microsurgery?

I’m excited by new techniques and solutions and the new horizons that technology will open up.

For a resident interested in a microsurgery fellowship, what advice do you have?

As far as advice is concerned, choose a fellowship that gives you what you want. Some fellowships are heavy on one particular area, e.g. breast. If this is what you want, great. If you want a more general fellowship, go for that. My personal feeling is that the more general the better. Be open to new ideas and explore areas you’re not familiar with. For a fellow, I want a hard-working person, someone who doesn’t mind being in a 15-hour case. I want someone inquisitive who is ready to try new things and I want someone honest.


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