A tribute to Drs. Zamboni and Rifley

A tribute to Drs. Zamboni and Rifley

Dr. Stephen Gordon—Friend and Colleague

condoloncesWithin a two month period, The Greater Las Vegas Community has lost, through death, two great plastic surgeons, Drs. William Zamboni  (1958 – 2015) and William Rifley (1960 – 2015). They will be greatly missed by family, friends, colleagues and the patients they served.

It takes a huge amount of dedication and perseverance to become a plastic surgeon. Plastic surgery training is like “grad school” for surgeons. You have to be a trained talented surgeon of several years experience to be considered for a plastic surgery residency position. In fact, in most instances, you have to have completed a residency in general surgery, ENT, GU or orthopedic surgery to be considered.  This is because plastic surgeons must have a grasp of surgical principles and knowledge of wound healing that the surgeon is able to create solutions to amend surgical problems and be of assistance to the other surgical specialties. The plastic surgeon must simultaneously be a fixer of difficult birth defects or trauma wounds and a cosmetic -artist -magician who leaves only faint traces of how he did it.

Not only were Dr.Rifley and Dr. Zamboni competent successful plastic surgeons, but they also managed to generously give back to the medical and local community far above anything required or expected.

When I joined the Las Vegas Medical Community in 1997, having relocated from Atlanta Georgia, I introduced myself to the plastic surgery community and immediately developed a fondness for these two men. As individuals these guys were about as different as night and day, but the one thing that they had in common was that they cheerfully took on leadership roles, and did their best to make this a better place for the community and the doctors.  Dr. Rifley took on the job of Chief of Plastic and Reconstructive surgery at both Summerlin Medical Center and University Medical Center in Las Vegas.   He and I also initiated a revival of the Las Vegas Plastic Surgery Society, which had been dormant for several years. This Society has grown and developed steadily through the years and continues to be a forum of intellectual exchange and problem solving for the Las Vegas plastic surgeons.

Dr. Zamboni, was the chairman of the Department of Surgery for the University of Nevada School of Medicine, and Division Chief and Director of the Plastic Surgery Residency training program.  I remember Dr. Zamboni was kind enough to accept my invitation and give a presentation before the National Medical Association Plastic Surgery Section during a national convention here in Las Vegas, and he participated in the meeting the whole day. From time-to-time, plastic surgeons in the community will have patients who simply do not have the financial resources or who have complicated problems requiring a team of plastic surgeons to fix. These would be the patients I would send over to Dr. Zamboni and his residents and I knew that they would receive the very best care.

To both of these Gentlemen I salute you and pray that you rest in peace.


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