Education: Plastic Surgeon with an Engineering Background
At a young age, Reza Nabavian MD attended boarding schools in eastern England and central Italy. As such, he is fluent in Italian, English and Farsi. When he was a teenager, Dr. Nabavian moved to Washington DC to study Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering. During his undergraduate studies, he participated in the development of laser systems that were used to scan the human body in a project that was funded by the National Science Foundation. This experience spurred him to apply to medical school. “I became fascinated by the human form and the interface of technology and biology,” he says.
Dr. Nabavian received his medical training at the University of Maryland where he participated in basic science research and graduated with honors. He then went on to train in plastic surgery at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles after completing his residency in general surgery at the University of California in San Diego.
“I always knew that I wanted to be a surgeon. I like anatomy and I’m good with my hands. I am also fascinated by the form and structure of the human body,” says Dr. Nabavian. In terms of plastic surgery, “I also appreciate that the practice is truly all encompassing. I can take care of the whole human body, from children to adults.”
“My colleagues tell me that my engineering background makes me see things differently than other doctors,” says Dr. Nabavian. “I think in terms of geometry and shapes. The thing that fascinated me about plastic surgery is how we study, change and shape the form of the human body. It’s the geometric and three dimensional aspects that appeals to me.” Because of this technical background, Dr. Nabavian has served as an independent investigator for the FDA studies of next generation filler proteins.
Philanthropy Practice: Artists for Peace and Justice – Medical Relief in Haiti
In the aftermath of the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Dr. Nabavian coordinated the medical and surgical relief operations for Artists for Peace and Justice (APJ), a star studded charity whose leadership includes Olivia Wilde, Charlize Theron, Paul Haggis, Clint Eastwood, Ben Stiller, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Diane Lane, James Franco, Susan Sarandon and Gerard Butler. Currently, he serves as the Co-Chair of the Executive Committee of APJ’s Board of Directors, where he helps execute APJ’s philanthropic goals. Those include general relief operations and the building and operating of schools in Haitian slums. Dr. Nabavian has thus traveled to Haiti over a dozen times since the earthquake to lend a medical hand. “I go there to perform surgeries, support hospitals and rehab centers and to help kids with prosthetics,” he says.
“This has been very gratifying because I always saw myself as a doctor first and a plastic surgeon second. I try to keep that central to my practice – in private and in the university,” says Dr. Nabavian. “There is a higher level of personal fulfillment when you realize that your skills and knowledge can make such a huge impact with people that have so much need.”
USC Medical School – Shaping the Curriculum
It’s exactly these ethical concerns that shape his teaching curriculum at USC. Dr. Nabavian is the Director of Aesthetic Surgery Education at USC where he serves as Clinical Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery. In this capacity he teaches young plastic surgeons how to perform safe, effective and ethical cosmetic plastic surgery.
Attending Staff at LAC/USC Regional Burn Center – Changing the Way that Burns are Treated
Treating burn victims as a plastic surgeon has compelling implications. “Burns are not necessarily a plastic surgery disease, but interestingly because burns are so disfiguring, plastic surgeons understand how to treat scars and disfigurement in a unique way.”
Typically, the treatment of burns is urgently focused on saving the patient’s life. Santa Monica Plastic Surgeon Dr. Nabavian incorporates aesthetic rehabilitation into the equation, where he concerns himself and his residents with minimalizing scaring and deformities as early as possible. “Most burn centers don’t have as much plastic surgery involvement,” he explains.