Dr. Emily spataro holds a hand mirror and smiles as she talks to a facial plastic surgery patient in an exam room

Emily Spataro, MD

Dr. Spataro is the newest member of the Washington University Facial Plastic Surgery Center team. She specializes in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, which includes rhinoplasty (nasal reconstructive or cosmetic surgery), other cosmetic surgeries, procedures for facial rejuvenation and aging, facial Mohs reconstruction, and facial trauma.

Dr. Spataro is a St. Louis native, and to the answer the most commonly asked St. Louis question, she went to high school at Cor Jesu Academy. She is a graduate of Washington University School of Medicine, where she completed her residency in otolaryngology and then a fellowship in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery at Stanford University.

What made you choose the field of facial plastic surgery?

As a medical student, I sought to explore all different interests and options. I spent time shadowing with a vascular surgeon, trauma surgeon, and observed some orthopedic procedures, as well. In choosing my third-year surgical clerkships, I wanted to choose specialties combining my interest in design and visual arts with medicine, so I was able to choose rotations including plastic surgery, as well as otolaryngology-head and neck surgery. I ultimately chose otolaryngology-head and neck surgery as a path to facial plastic surgery as my specialty during my third year of medical school.

Not only does this field expose you to the subspecialty of facial plastic surgery, but every procedure we do, whether head and neck oncology surgery, otology, laryngology, etc., requires vast knowledge and familiarity with the very complex anatomy of the head and neck. I think this training is essential in fully understanding the procedures we do in facial plastic surgery.

How long have you been a part of the Washington University Facial Plastic Surgery Center and why do you enjoy it?

I have been a part of this practice for over a year, and I enjoy being a part of an academic practice. We see challenging cases, stay part of advances in our field through society meetings and research, and we teach the next generation of facial plastic surgeons through our residency and fellowship programs.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is always when I can really help a patient, whether that is to make them feel better about their appearance, help them restore more functionality to their nose, repair skin cancer removals or fix facial trauma.

What would you like others to know about your field?

We are a subspecialty of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, and because our training is specifically in head and neck surgery, I believe we gain a deep understanding of the anatomy and functionality of all of these structures, beyond just cosmetic considerations.

What are some of the new developments in your field that you are most excited about?

In this field, there are always new technologies emerging because it is a very consumer-driven industry. Developments include new products and techniques for rejuvenation and anti-aging that are less invasive — resulting in shorter downtime. I am very involved in facial plastic surgery research and the American Academy of Facial Plastic Surgery. This helps me stay informed about this ever-changing and advancing field, and allows us to provide our patients with new treatments that are supported by research.

Who inspires you?

Many people have inspired me along the way, in particular my mentors in facial plastic surgery at both Washington University and Stanford University, but one of my main inspirations is my mom. She went to dental school at Washington University, and also taught at Washington University School of Dentistry. She owns her dental practice in Clayton, and I’ve seen how she has built her practice and always keeps her patients’ needs first. Her patients know they can always call her — after hours, weekends — and she will answer. Their care comes first, not the bottom line.

I use my mom as an example of how I want to treat my patients. I want my patients to know I am always accessible and want to provide the best care for them as an individual. I find it fulfilling to build longstanding relationships with them — not just treat them for one moment in time, as sometimes is the case in surgical practices.

What would someone be surprised to learn about you?

I was almost a lawyer; I took the LSAT when I was a senior in college, and my dad is a lawyer, so I worked in his law firm in the summers. Fortunately, I was studying biomedical engineering in college, and we were doing research in the operating room, so I was able to see surgeries first hand, which completely changed my trajectory, and I’ve never looked back.

Also, my husband, Dr. Nedim Durakovic, is also a surgeon; we trained in residency together, which is how we met. He is a neurotologist, so he does all ear and lateral skull base surgeries.

What do you enjoy doing outside of your practice?

I enjoy spending time with my family, traveling and interior decorating. I’m from St. Louis, so I know and love this community and have many family and friends here. My husband and I just had our first child, and we are already excited to bring her to California, where we were married, Europe and specifically Bosnia, where he is from, and many other places we’ve never been before, either.

To learn more about the Facial Plastic Surgery Center or to schedule a consultation with the physicians, call 314-996-3880 or click here.