Changing the face of plastic surgery

By Lisa Ferguson

Dr. Orna Fisher discovered her life’s calling in the midst of an untraditional tattooing session.

As a medical student fulfilling a plastic surgery rotation at the University of Southern California, she was given the task with guiding an ink-filled tattoo needle over the reconstructed breast of a cancer patient to create a new, aesthetically pleasing nipple for the woman.

“It was amazing to me. Just finishing that phase (of reconstruction) made the biggest difference (to the patient, who was) amazed as well,” Fisher recalled. “A lot of times it’s just finishing that last phase that makes somebody realize the (cancer) process is over. She was very emotional seeing that.”

Fisher was so moved that she changed her specialty from ear, nose and throat (ENT or otolaryngology) to plastic surgery. After undergoing years of state-of-the art training, last year she opened The Fisher Center for Aesthetic & Reconstructive Surgery, located at 5380 S. Rainbow Blvd., Suite 210, Las Vegas.

According to the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners, Fisher is one of only six female plastic surgeons in Southern Nevada (this includes 2 women currently in residency). A board-certified general surgeon, she finished her residency at the University of Nevada School of Medicine before completing a plastic surgery fellowship at Oregon Health & Science University.

“I really diversified my education by doing every phase of it at a different institution. I thought it was really important to see what other places were doing,” she said.

Fisher’s love of medicine began during childhood. “My mom was a scientist and I was always with her in the lab, and I got a lot of exposure to the sciences.” She became particularly interested in biology and anatomy. “When I was little, doctors used to make house calls, so I thought that was really cool.”

In her early days as a medical student, Fisher began “scrubbing in” on cases alongside a physician/mentor who was an ear, nose and throat specialist. Fisher was so confident that ENT would become her specialty that she had already conducted medical research and presented information at a national industry meeting.

Then came that fateful plastic surgery rotation at USC. “There was definitely some overlap between plastic surgery and ENT in terms of the anatomy. So when I got that rotation it was perfect, I thought.”

“Actually, what ended up happening was within three weeks I completely changed my mind (about the direction of her career path),” she explained. “I equate it to falling in love versus falling out of love. You can’t control it—it’s just something that happens.”

Fisher went on to complete plastic surgery rotations at several medical institutions, including Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles where she said she learned about “the diversity of people you can affect as a plastic surgeon.”

“You can affect kids from the time they’re babies, all the way to elderly people,” she said. “You can work on any body part, and you can just do aesthetic things where you’re improving somebody’s appearance. Or, you can completely reconstruct something to take abnormal and try to restore it to normal.”

Plastic surgery, she contends, “is a continuum. You have things that are, purely reconstructive surgery, for example where somebody is (involved) in a trauma, or somebody has a birth defect. And then you have the super-ultra cosmetic, where you’re taking really attractive people who are absolutely within the range of normal and they just want to be super-normal.”