Peter Neligan, MB - Plastic Surgery Author

Peter C. Neligan, MB

“Plastic surgery is incredibly broad. It doesn’t own a body part, it doesn’t own a disease process.” – Dr. Peter Neligan

Path to Plastic Surgery

I don’t really know what prompted me to get into medicine, it was just something I always wanted to do, but once I got into medicine the one thing I didn’t want to do is be a surgeon. That kind of happened by accident along the way. I didn’t like surgery, I didn’t like surgeons, and then during my intern year I did a rotation on plastic surgery and just fell in love and that was the end of that. Plastic surgery is incredibly broad. It doesn’t own a body part, it doesn’t own a disease process. We operate all over the body on all sorts of different disease processes. We interact with others specialties a lot, probably more than any other specialty. So it’s incredibly broad and very gratifying, and that’s why I fell in love with it and that’s why I still love doing it. My own particular area of interest is microsurgery related to oncology and cancer reconstruction. It’s one of the areas where we really interact with all the other specialties in a very day-to-day way. Almost all cases are cases done with other specialties, so it’s a lot of fun.

How Plastic Surgery Evolves

There have been some major changes to Plastic Surgery over the years. The first edition is of course completely print-based because at that time we didn’t have the internet. The second edition had some online content, but again was mostly text-based. With this edition, we put everything in color and there’s a very significant online part of the book. So the online version is more complete than the text version and we’ve moved a lot of stuff that used to appear in the text version online in order to save space in the print edition. That allowed us to have everything redrawn in color and to eliminate redundancies.

They say that a picture’s worth a thousand words, and a video’s probably worth a thousand pictures, so being able to see somebody actually do the procedure is much more helpful than reading a piece of text about how to do it. The two actually complement each other because if you’re not quite sure about some aspect, you can go back and check the text.

Why I Do This

I think it’s really important that we have a definitive textbook for the specialty, and thought it was really important to continue that tradition. I was really pleased that we could make it relevant to the way people use textbooks today, by having 160 videos and so much searchable web content. For me, this was a huge opportunity to make some contribution to the specialty.


Peter C. Neligan, MB, FRCS(I), FRCSC, FACS, received his medical education at the University of Dublin, Trinity College, graduating MB, BCh, BAO in 1975. He obtained his FRCS in general surgery from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in 1980 and subsequently trained in Plastic Surgery in Dublin. In 1983 he moved to Toronto for fellowship training at the University of Toronto, completing fellowships in surgical research, pediatric plastic surgery, microvascular surgery, and burn surgery. Having obtained his FRCSC in Plastic Surgery, Dr. Neligan established practice in Sudbury, Ontario in 1987 before returning to the University of Toronto in 1991 to take up a position at the Wellesley Hospital as Director of the Ross Tilley Burn Unit. In 1993 he moved to Toronto General Hospital (TGH) where he specialized in oncologic reconstruction and reconstructive microsurgery. Dr. Neligan served as Chief of Plastic Surgery at TGH from 1996 until 2007. In 1996 he was appointed Chair of the University Division of Plastic Surgery. In 1999 he was appointed the Wharton Chair in Reconstructive Plastic Surgery, the first endowed chair in Plastic Surgery in Canada.

Dr. Neligan moved to Seattle, WA in July 2007 where he is now a Professor at the University of Washington in the Departments of Surgery and Otolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery.  He is active in numerous societies, and is past president of the Plastic Surgery Foundation, The American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery and the North American Skull Base Society. Dr. Neligan currently serves on the Board of Directors for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and is a past member of the Board of Directors for the American Head and Neck Society. He is the immediate past Chair of the Advisory Council for Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgery at the American College of Surgeons.

Dr. Neligan has authored 7 books, over 70 book chapters, and over 170 peer-reviewed papers. He is the series editor of the third edition of the 6-volume set, Plastic Surgery. He has made over 200 peer-reviewed presentations at national and international meetings as well as delivering numerous invited lectures. He has served as Visiting Professor to numerous institutions nationally and internationally.  He sits on the Editorial Board of five journals and is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Reconstructive Microsurgery.

Related Authors: Geoffrey C. Gurtner, MD, FACS; Richard Warren, MD, FRCSCEduardo D. Rodriguez, MD, DDSJoseph E. Losee MD, FACS, FAAPDavid H. Song MD, MBA, FACSJames C. Grotting, MDJames Chang, MD, FACSAllen L. Van Beek, MD, FACS