Bohdan Pomahac, MD, has joined Yale School of Medicine as division chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. He succeeds John Persing, MD, Irving and Silik Polayes Professor Emeritus of Surgery (Plastic), who has held the position for 29 years and is retiring this summer.
Pomahac arrived this month from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) at Harvard Medical School, where he served as Roberta and Stephen R. Weiner Distinguished Chair in Surgery and director of Vascular Composite Allograft Transplantation. At BWH, he pioneered the world’s leading face transplant surgery program and conducted 10 of the 17 procedures that have been performed in the United States. Now, he looks forward to a new chapter at Yale, where he is excited to build on existing programs and develop new ones, and also help junior surgeons grow into national leaders.
“It’s an opportunity to give and provide to everyone what I’ve been able to accomplish, share my experience and help them find their areas of strength,” he says.
Pomahac became interested in plastic surgery after switching back and forth among various specialties in medical school, including neurosurgery and cardiac surgery. A lecture he attended on facial reconstruction made up his mind. “I felt [plastic surgery] was the perfect fit, where innovation and creativity had no limit,” he says. “And for every problem, there are a half dozen different solutions.”
Plastic surgery is widely known for aesthetic procedures. However, the specialty is broad, often multidisciplinary in nature, and provides life-changing benefits to a great variety of patients. Reconstructive oncology, for example, helps repair and give function back to parts of the body after major cancer operations, such as reconstructing breasts after a mastectomy or fixing the damage caused by removing a tumor. The availability of reconstructive surgery for transgender and other members of the LGBT+ community helps both pediatric and adult patients make the choices they need to help feel more aligned with their gender identity.
“Our field is really much broader than body enhancements,” says Pomahac. “This is why I prefer the term plastic and reconstructive surgery, because it is in my mind a continuum.”
Other important benefits of plastic surgery include helping those born with craniofacial deformities, correcting work-related hand injuries and fixing wounds that haven’t healed properly after surgery. Whether addressing aging, trauma, cancer, or a birth defect, the end goal of plastic surgery is to try and restore what is considered normal, natural, and appealing.
“I often get lovely letters from patients saying, ‘thank you for making me whole again,’” says Dr. Nita Ahuja, MD, MBA, chair and William H. Carmalt Professor of Surgery at Yale School of Medicine and chief of surgery at Yale New Haven Hospital.
Ahuja says she is looking forward to seeing Pomahac expand Yale’s programmatic repertoire and also to his creating more destination programs in such areas as reconstructive oncology and transgender surgery. Ahuja credits Persing with building a solid foundation in these specialties, and now she is excited to see Pomahac take Yale’s plastic surgery programs to new heights.
In addition to Pomahac’s experience developing such world-renowned innovations as BWH’s facial reconstructive program, says Ahuja, he also possesses exemplary leadership skills. “He is a great mentor and developer of people,” she says. “Everyone on the search team committee was struck by his skill nurturing teams.”
At Yale, Pomahac looks forward to being able to recruit new plastic surgeons, whether residents or faculty, and help them achieve their greatest potential. And after 25 years at BWH, it excites Pomahac not only to bring his expertise to Yale, but to also to gain a fresh perspective at a new institution.
“Yale is, without a doubt, one of the top academic programs in the country,” he says. “All the pieces for ultimate success are here. This is a tremendous and terrific opportunity.”