Excellence in plastic surgery: A unique approach

Dr. Stephen Evangelisti loves cars. Even his medical explanations are peppered with automobile analogies, and this self-proclaimed “gear head” who restores old cars recently spent 10 months restoring a 1977 Pontiac Trans Am Smokey and the Bandit tribute project with his 16-year-old son, James. In a way, his fascination with cars offers a metaphor for his chosen career as a plastic surgeon. “I like to solve complex problems and tend to enjoy fine, intricate work,” says Dr. Evangelisti. “I like to operate and fix things permanently.”

Dr. Stephen EvangelistiWorking out of his Brighton, NY, office with surgical privileges at many area hospitals and surgical centers, Dr. Evangelisti performs a broad range of reconstructive and cosmetic procedures, including post breast and skin cancer reconstruction; hand surgery, such as fracture reduction, release of carpal tunnel and triggers, and nerve and tendon repairs; breast reduction; abdominoplasty; augmentation mammoplasty; liposuction; breast lifts or mastopexy; bariatric recovery procedures, such as removal of skin from thighs, arms and buttocks; and blepharoplasty, face lifts, fat injections and other rejuvenative surgery. Dr. Evangelisti estimates that 70% of his surgeries are cosmetic, with the remaining 30% equally divided between hand and general reconstructive surgeries.

While he tends to shy away from the limelight, Dr. Evangelisti has a stellar reputation in his field as a surgeon and is renowned for his technical skills and artistry as well as his approach to surgery. “I believe the greatest gift a person can receive from a surgeon is to learn to be fine without surgery. My job is to educate patients about their options and discourage rash decisions. And if I can convince someone not to have surgery for the wrong reasons, I have done my job well,” asserts Dr. Evangelisti, also an assistant professor at Strong Hospital. He spends a great deal of his time in his office counseling each patient on options as well as on what to expect during and after surgery, and sometimes these consults can last as long as 2½ hours. Dr. Evangelisti estimates that he has discouraged ¼ of potential clients from undergoing cosmetic surgery. This perspective is quite unusual in the field. “When choosing a surgeon, it is important to find a doctor you are comfortable with, not one who might be pushing a certain result. I may go too far in the other direction, but I feel that caution is appropriate when making life-altering decisions,” says Dr. Evangelisti.

Dr. Evangelisti’s quest to become a surgeon began when he was 11 years old. A childhood friend had Volkmann’s ischemic contracture, which had pinched an artery and the resulting scar prevented him from opening his fingers. Following surgery to correct the problem, his friend regained movement in his fingers and was better able to play like other children without getting hurt. From that moment on, Dr. Evangelisti was dedicated to becoming a hand surgeon.

Dr. Stephen EvangelistiOriginally from Westchester, NY, Dr. Evangelisti came to the University of Rochester as an undergraduate to meet Dr. Robert McCormack, one of the pioneers in the field of hand surgery. Even though, at the time, most surgeons were not inclined to have a college student observe their procedures, Dr. McCormack welcomed Dr. Evangelisti’s interest. “Dr. McCormack was the most kind, honorable man I had ever met. A mentor like that determines the type of training you decide to do, and in my case, inspired me to be a plastic surgeon,” says Dr. Evangelisti.

After majoring in neuroscience, he went on to attend University of Rochester Medical Center’s School of Medicine and Dentistry, and completed his residency in plastic and general surgery at Strong Memorial Hospital. Following a hand fellowship at the Genesee Hospital and a head and neck fellowship at Roswell Park, he served as a plastic surgeon in the U.S. Air Force for four years. His time in the military, and the lessons he learned while stationed at Andrews Air Force Base, contributed significantly to his current philosophy about plastic surgery. “I learned how to perform surgery to avoid complications at all costs. I was taught to do as much ‘postoperative’ care in the operating room as possible. The military breeds a conservatism, which has stayed with me throughout my career, “says Dr. Evangelisti.

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Posted in Body, Breast Augmentation, Breast Reconstruction, Face.