History of the Northwest Society of Plastic Surgeons

Founded in 1962

In 1962, history was made at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, B.C.: Williard Rowland, then president, presided over the very first meeting of the Northwest Society of Plastic Surgeons. Since that day, the Northwest Society has held annual meetings at various locations throughout the northwest in an effort to bring together plastic surgeons practicing in the region to share insights, discuss the industry, and grow through engagement.

Originally, the Northwest society encompassed only Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. Growth was inevitable, and the NWSPS now also includes Idaho, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Alaska, and Hawaii. We now have 350+ active members, in addition to a growing list of honorary members who have been guests to our annual meetings.

Early History

In the Pacific Northwest, plastic surgery was first practiced as a specialty by Dr. Adelbert Bettman, a surgeon who began his practice in 1911. As was common at that time, Dr. Bettman was not a graduate of a residency program, but he limited his practice to plastic surgery and visited Dr. Staige Davis in Baltimore and Dr. Vilray Blair in St. Louis.

Whether Dr. Bettman or Dr. Bames of Los Angeles was the first plastic surgeon on the west coast is open to conjecture, as is the fact that he may have performed the first facelift in the United States. He utilized horse hair for suture material well into the sixties and was known for his gauze, which was Scarlet Red, and oxyquinoline sulphate, and for his treatment of burns with 5% Tannic Acid, followed by 10% Silver Nitrate.

1937 – 1961

The arrival of trained plastic surgeons began in 1937, with Dr. Charles Gurney. Dr. Gurney trained with Gillies in England and Gordon New at the Mayo Clinic and opened his practice in Portland, Oregon. In the late thirties and early forties, Edward Olin Schreiner began practicing in Seattle.  Though not a trained plastic surgeon, Walter Scott Brown also began his practice in Seattle and limited it to the specialty.

Others began practicing in the Northwest near the end of World War II, including Robert Langston of Vancouver and his residents:

  • Dr. Bob Cowan
  • Dr. Joe Badre
  • Dr. Dan Stefanoff
  • Dr. Willard Rowland
  • Dr. Vern Lindgren

In 1947, Ed Hamacher began working in Spokane, followed closely in 1948 by Dr. Ernest Banfield in Tacoma. Drs. Carl Chrisholm and Matt Pilling opened practices in Seattle in 1940, with Dr. David Sullivan following suit in Spokane. 1951 saw Dr. Dun Kavanaugh begin practice in Portland.

Prior to the formation of the Northwest Society of Plastic Surgeons, a group known as the Pacific Northwest Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons met in the Heathman Hotel in Portland, Oregon (March 27, 1952). With Dr. Bettman as its president, the organization members signed articles of a constitution on April 5, 1952, at the University of Oregon Medical School.

Twenty people attended that meeting, including plastic surgeons, pediatric surgeons, and an otolaryngologist from the Seattle area. This organization met annually from 1952 to 1960, until, in 1961, an attorney recommended they dissolve and rewrite their bylaws to comply with the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon’s constitution. This limited active membership to board certified plastic surgeons. Click here to see our Annual Meeting History.

This historical information was respectively provided by Linton G. Weed, M.D., Historian of the Northwest Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Annual Meeting Photos

Historically, we’ve held our annual meetings in beautiful, welcoming environments, and we’d love to share past experiences with you! A great way to learn more about our history is to view photos from our past meetings.

Historians of the NWSPS

DATE Historian Location
1962 – 1971 Gilbert G. Eade, M.D. Seattle Washington
1972 – 1973 Robert G. Langston, M.D. Vancouver, BC
1974 – 1978 Ernest E. (“Bud”) Banfield, M.D. Tacoma, WA
1979 – 1981 Dale C. Birdsell, M.D. Calgary, AB
1982 – 1986 Kenneth R. Tucker, M.D. Seattle, WA
1987 – 1988 Robert J. Demuth, M.D. Portland, OR
1989 – 1995 Linton G. Weed, M.D. Portland, OR
1996 – 1998 Eugene R. Perrin, M.D. Portland, OR
1999 – 2015 Louis H. McCraw, M.D. Portland, OR
2015 – present Michael Workman, M.D. Vancouver, WA