CSPS NEW MEMBER SPOTLIGHT – DR. THOMAS SATTERWHITE

The CSPS is proud shine our New Member Spotlight on:

Dr. Thomas Satterwhite

Read more about Dr. Satterwhite – fun and personal facts!

How and/or why did you get involved with the CSPS? I’ve been involved with CSPS ever since I was in medical school at Stanford (2001-2007).  I presented at the annual conference on several occasions, at which point I was doing research on wound healing.  While I was a Stanford Plastic Surgery resident (2007-2013), I continued my involvement in research (on microsurgical education and abdominal wall reconstruction), and had the wonderful opportunity to continue presenting at CSPS (and I was so surprised and honored to be awarded the “Best Resident Paper Award” twice!).  Dr. Gordon Lee (who I regard as my mentor and hero!) had always encouraged me during my residency to keep presenting and to be as involved as much as I could with CSPS.  While in practice, I’ve presented over the past few years on gender confirmation surgery (as part of panel and presenting original research).  I’ve been an Auditor, and a member of the Scientific Committee.

The best part of next weekend will be  spending time with my family. My husband Harald, and my 5 year old son Alexander are my priority.   I make every effort to devote my weekend to family time, and avoid doing any type of work and checking email. We’re creatures of habit, and do the same thing every weekend.  We live in Marin, and our favorite thing to do is to go to Muir Beach and hang out there for hours.  We bring our beach chairs, and a cooler with snacks, and we sit and watch the waves.  I’m usually chasing Alexander around, and trying to keep him from scaling the highest rocks on the beach, which he seems to always want to do.


Dr. Satterwhite with his husband Harald and their son Alexander – family time!

The best dish I cook is  Chicken Adobo.  Which is, in fact, the only dish I know how to cook.  My husband is a phenomenal cook—he enjoys it much more than I do, and he’s definitely much more efficient and patient in the kitchen than I am.  My mom is Filipino, and a dish that I learned to make from her is called Chicken Adobo.  It’s very simple to make (which is why I can cook it!), and it’s very hard to mess up!  It’s a savory mixture of chicken, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, bay leaves, pepper, onions, and garlic, and it’s left to simmer for hours, so that by the time it’s done, the meat is falling off the bones.  It’s always served with white rice.

An operation that I no longer perform is  a lot of operations!    For the past 4 ½ years, my practice has been exclusively focused on gender confirmation surgery.  I perform vaginoplasties, breast augmentation, facial feminization surgery, mastectomies, and revisions associated with these operations.  I’m in a very small niche, which I truly love.  As I look back on my residency at Stanford, I’m certainly amazed at the breadth of procedures I once performed, particularly hand cases, that I no longer perform. Do I miss them?  Yes, I do.  But at the same time, I love that I’ve found my calling in gender confirmation surgery, and that I’ve been able to hone my skills in this specific set of surgical procedures.

I seriously collect cowboy boots.  I’ve had a bit of an obsession with exotic cowboy boots.   I currently have 15 pairs, including eel, caiman, ant eater, ostrich, Pirarucu fish, stingray, python.  I’m not sure how I’ve developed this peculiar love of cowboy boots.  I travelled a lot growing up since my father was in the Air Force, but I have never lived in Texas, nor have I spent any considerable amount of time on a ranch!  Regardless, I still avidly collect them.

The best vacation I ever took was to the Yucatán peninsula 17 years ago when I was just starting medical school at Stanford.  I went with a group of close friends during Spring Break, and had the best time ever.  We didn’t have any money, so we stayed in this run-down moldy hotel.   But it didn’t matter, since we didn’t spend much time in the hotel.  We rented a car, and just drove everywhere and went exploring.  It’s one of the few times in my life where I didn’t plan anything, and just let things happen as they come.  We visited the ruins of Chichen Itza, beautiful Tulum, went scuba diving (though none of us were certified!), swam in breath-taking underground caves (called cenotes), and ate a lot of street food (luckily, I did not get gastroenteritis).  I’m still really close with these friends, and we frequently travel together.  We’ve gone through medical school and residency together, and we’re all raising our families in the Bay Area, so we still get to spend time with each other.

What keeps you in the CSPS? CSPS has always felt like home to me.  I get to reconnect with friends and mentors.  I love research, learning, teaching, and presenting, and CSPS has been a great venue to allow me to do all of this. I think it’s very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day duties of work, and CSPS provides the opportunity to learn new things, to get involved, to educate, to advocate for ourselves as plastic surgeons, and to advocate for our patients.