portrait of Dr. John Chi smiling in front of pond next to his medical office building.

Dr. John Chi – Facial Plastic Surgeon

Dr. Chi has been surgeon with the Washington University Facial Plastic Surgery Center team since 2013.  He is an associate professor of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery in the Department of Otolaryngology at Washington University School of Medicine with interests in rhinoplasty, facial nerve injury and disorders and cosmetic procedures and surgery. He also serves as co-director of the American Academy of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery fellowship program at Washington University School of Medicine.

As a lifelong learner and teacher, Dr. Chi’s path to a career in medicine was not a typical one. He studied chemical engineering at Columbia University in New York City. But it was his volunteer work with a women’s shelter for victims of domestic violence and their children where he served as a mentor and big sibling that led to his first career in education. He worked as a public-school science teacher in the South Bronx — a rewarding and life changing experience. After several years of teaching and earning his Master’s Degree in Education, he continued his education and attended the State University of New York College of Medicine where he earned his medical degree. As a medical student in New York City, he continued to work and care for others in an underserved community. He completed his surgical residency training at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and completed a facial plastic and reconstructive surgery fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic.

After years of medical training and work as an educator, Dr. Chi says, “As physicians we are expected to have all the answers, but it is often the patients who have the most to teach. Listening to the patients and hearing their questions and concerns is an invaluable part of choosing the surgery or treatment that will achieve the best possible outcome. You can’t possibly begin to treat the problems of the patient, until you hear the concerns of the person.”

What led you to this field of medicine?

I began my career with an interest in the complex aesthetics and functions of the face, head and neck. This interest led to my fellowship training that was focused on cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. My training in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery included facial aesthetic surgery, facial paralysis management, microvascular surgery, trauma surgery, and post-cancer reconstruction.

Tell us about a rewarding aspect of your work.

When I was a resident, I was awarded a humanitarian travel grant to go on a medical mission trip. During that trip we performed cleft lip and palate surgery, and facial scar surgery. That experience reaffirmed what I was doing and how I was applying my talents and my education. Traveling on medical missions remains an integral part of my professional life. My humanitarian work has taken me to serve in India, China, Ecuador and Guatemala to care for cleft lip and palate patients and teach local physicians techniques in cleft lip and palate repair.

What would you like others to know about your field?

Plastic surgery is a rapidly evolving field of medicine. The influences of social media, consumer interest and medical research have driven many advances in the field, such as new applications for the Botox injection and non-surgical facial rejuvenation. With continued research and development, the possibilities for aesthetic and functional plastic surgery appear to be limitless.

What has changed in this field since you started?

The impact of social media is the most significant change in plastic surgery since I began practicing medicine. Public perception and consumer interest has changed drastically with the rise of social media. While there are many important considerations with social media, its value as a tool for the distribution of information cannot be understated.

What brought you to St. Louis and Washington University?

I knew I wanted to pursue an academic position that would expose me to the entire spectrum of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery. While I could have pursued a career in facial aesthetic surgery in private practice, there were other aspects that drew me to pursue a career in medicine at an academic medical center.

What interests you outside of work and medicine?

Outside of work and medicine, my family is my top priority. We love to travel together and especially enjoy weekend road trips with the dog.

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