AAPS, American Association of Plastic Surgeons
AAPS, American Association of Plastic Surgeons
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Scott L. Spear, M.D.

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Scott L. Spear, M.D.
1948 - 2017

March 16, 2017 is a day that has been imprinted into the minds of all that knew Scott Spear. His passing has been a tremendous loss to his family, friends and to our specialty. Like many significant events, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news of his passing. Like everyone, I was in shock because it was totally unexpected. I began to reminisce and remember all the good times we had shared and all that I had learned from him over the years as a student and colleague, but mostly as a friend. He was a role model and mentor to many people that included his family, faculty, residents, students, and friends. Scott was truly a surgeon’s surgeon and a master at that. In the operating room and in life, Scott would be described as meticulous, attentive, and precise. His ability to solve and simplify complex problems was what differentiated him from every one else. His ability to analyze and critically think about a particular issue and arrive at a solution was remarkable. Anyone who has ever been in a “think-tank’ with Scott would confirm that he was logical, right-on, and generated consensus. There are few people that have had the impact he has on the thousands of “students” of plastic surgery, who have listened to his lectures, read his manuscripts, learned from his textbooks, and benefited from his wisdom.

As a young man, Scott was intellectually precocious receiving his B.A. from the University of Michigan at the age of 19 and his M.D. from the University of Chicago at 23. After of 8 years of general and plastic surgical residencies at Harvard and the University of Miami followed by his craniofacial fellowship in Paris with Daniel Marchac, Scott commenced his illustrious academic career at the University of Florida in 1980. One year later, he arrived at Georgetown University under the leadership of Bill Little and history was in the making. He became Chief of Plastic Surgery in 1992 and Chairman of Plastic Surgery in 2005, ironically the same year that I started at Georgetown. His accomplishments in Plastic Surgery will be etched into the annals of our specialty. Amongst these, there were 4 that he was most proud: serving as President of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons from 2004-2005, creating and organizing the Royal and Ancient Society of American Plastic Surgeons (RASAPS), conceptualizing, organizing, and chairing the Breast Cancer Coordinated Care Conference (BC3) as well as continuing to build upon the Plastic Surgery Residency at Georgetown University where he mentored and taught hundreds of students, residents, fellows and attendings. It was only fitting that in 2015, Scott received the Honorary Citation Award form the ASPS and in 2016, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award by the organizing committee of BC3 for his many contributions, not just to plastic surgery, but to the community of breast care providers and patients that have benefited from his endless efforts. His accomplishments and contributions to plastic and reconstructive surgery of the breast are second to none and exemplified by his academic contributions that include 154 indexed manuscripts, 203 book chapters, 117 refereed lectures, and 855 invited lectures. His textbook, Surgery of the Breast: Principles and Art, was arguably the most sought after textbook focused on breast surgery and had 3 extremely successful editions with a fourth that was in the planning stages.

Scott Spear's influence around the world as an educator and innovator was impactful. He was invited to serve as faculty at virtually every breast conference around the world with repeated invitations becoming commonplace. To this day, it is almost impossible to attend a breast conference where one of his papers isn’t referenced or where he isn’t mentioned by name. He always made himself available to answer questions about relevant issues and thoroughly enjoyed his role as a teacher. His contributions to the development of breast implants and breast surgery are unparalleled. Scott promoted the idea of nipple sparing mastectomy long before it became a common operation and desired option for breast surgeons and patients confronted with mastectomy. During the silicone gel breast implant crisis, Scott Spears impact was felt throughout the world. As part of a small team, Scott was able to educate the FDA about the safety and efficacy of silicone gel breast implants. I will never forget that day in May 2005 at the FDA hearings in Gaithersburg, MD and how Scott came to the rescue of all manufacturers and explained why silicone gel breast implants should be available to all women for all indications. That moment was definitely the tipping point in those hearings.

When I think about Scott Spear's legacy, I think of him as a dedicated and passionate human being. His devotion to family and to his friends could only be truly appreciated by those that were close to him. His wife Cindy and three children Louis, Alex and Geri became imbedded in all of our lives. He loved golf, travel and spending time with friends and family. I had the absolute privilege and honor of working with Scott at Georgetown University from 2005 – 2013. What I truly admired about Scott was his intellectual curiosity, insight, attention to detail, and brilliance, but what I admired most, was his honesty and trustworthy nature. Although it wasn’t always obvious at the moment, it became painfully obvious in the end. As a chairman, his goals were to protect his faculty, residents, and staff at all costs because our Department became an extended family based on friendship and camaraderie. It was extremely uncommon for staff or faculty to seek other employment opportunities because what we had at Georgetown was truly special, thanks to Scott. Under his guidance and leadership, we created an empire. Scott Spear will forever be missed.

Maurice Nahabedian, M.D.

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