Plastic Surgery and Engineering

Posted October 14, 2009 in About Dr. Mele, Home

or How an Engineering Major Becomes a Plastic Surgeon

The Eiffel Tower (click for a closer view)

The Eiffel Tower (click for a closer view)

I have a short biography on my web site which includes a list of honors and degrees received. The fact that I get the most questions about, however, is my undergraduate major.

Electrical and Computer Engineering is the not a common pre-med major. I started at the University of California, Davis, with the goal of becoming a doctor, and with a major in biological sciences. Bio Sci is probably the most commonly selected pre-med path.

I graduated from high school, with advanced placement credits in math, chemistry, physiology and physics. In order to receive these credits, I had to take the more vigorous coursework in college. This put me on the same track as the Engineering majors, and I found out I enjoyed Engineering.

Engineering involves system analysis – looking at a specific situation and determining why it does or doesn’t work. While usually applied to a structure or a machine, this analysis can also be applied to the human body. Fluid dynamics can be applied to the circulatory system. Circuit analysis helps understand the nervous system, and structural analysis provides insight into why things sag.

System analysis, and studying the integration of systems, helped me understand the volumes of facts required for my pre-med classes then, and still provides a frame work in which to organize the Plastic Surgery decisions which I am called on to make daily.

I think the questions about my Engineering Major arise because Cosmetic Plastic Surgery is seen as a creative and artistic endeavour, while engineering is seen as rote and rigid. In reality, a great plastic surgeon needs to understand both the artistry and the science behind the art. The most beautiful building in the world will not provide much joy if it falls over. Form must be balanced with function.

Great Plastic Surgery, like great Engineering, combines precision with style. The Eiffel Tower is one of the most recognized structures in the world. It is an icon for Paris and all of France because it has style. It is aesthetically pleasing, and it is pleasing to the eye because of the artistry. However, it is standing today, 81 stories and 120 years after the opening of the Exposition Universal, because of the engineering.

Next week I will get back to cosmetic plastic surgery. As always if you have any question, feel free to send them. A contact form is provided on this blog (to the left) and on my main web site.

If you are also a UC Davis alumnus this week end is Homecoming. Will I see you at Pajamarino?