Meet Dr. James Zasuly, plastic surgeon
Tue, Oct 20, 2020
As an undergrad at Texas A&M University, James Zasuly had everything figured out. He’d earn his engineering degree and go on to enjoy a successful and fulfilling professional career.
It sounded good. It just didn’t feel good, Zasuly says.
“I remember walking across campus thinking ... one day I’m going to wake up. I’m going to be 40 years old. The alarm is going to go off. I’m going to wake up and I’m going to ask the question, ‘Who do you want to be? Where do you want to be?’ And I decided I wanted to be a plastic surgeon,” he says.
Zasuly, a Texas native, instead engineered a career in plastic surgery. Today, he’s one of the physicians with Plastic Surgery & Skin Specialists by BayCare Clinic in Green Bay.
Plastic surgery appealed to Zasuly because, “You’re sort of a human engineer. You look at a problem, you figure out what the issue is, whether it’s mechanical or physiologic. You try to adapt the patient or solve the problem so there’s some engineering aspects to it.”
Add to that the challenge of understanding a patient’s needs and wants and how best to help fulfill those desired results, and the siren call of plastic surgery was too much to resist.
“When I took an interest in medicine and surgery and realized that plastic surgeons have a set of tools and a set of processes in regards to injuries, cancer and reconstruction – that they’re trying to decide on a solution for patients, that really drew me to plastic surgery because there’s not a textbook answer for everything,” he says. “You have to look at a problem, look at available solutions and decide what’s best in that situation.”
Though eager to begin studying for a career in plastic surgery, engineering took priority.
“I had to finish my degree because I was on scholarship,” Zasuly says. “A company was employing me and paying my way through school and I owed them a year of work after college so I couldn’t get out of engineering. I had to finish my degree.”
Zasuly completed his undergraduate studies, worked for a year as an engineer and then returned to Texas A&M for medical school.
He earned his medical degree from Texas A&M, then interned and completed his general surgery residency at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago. He completed a plastic surgery residency at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Temple, Texas.
“When I was a resident – I was in residency for seven years – I remember my internship was just a blur,” Zasuly says. “It’s really challenging, after medical school they throw you in a hospital, give you a pager and say, ‘You’re on call.’ It’s a lot of stress the first couple of years.”
Now a seasoned plastic surgeon, Zasuly reflects on how far he’s come.
“I remember the very first patient I had when I started plastic surgery,” he says. “Day one, show up at the hospital, do rounds and I met a young boy, probably 10 years old, that had been attacked by a pitbull … it was ugly. That was an eye opener for day one of plastic surgery.”
Today, Zasuly sees patients seeking procedures ranging from cosmetic surgeries such as breast augmentations, liposuction and tummy tucks, to reconstructive surgeries like breast reconstruction and reconstruction due to skin cancer.
The patient-surgeon relationship is paramount to a successful surgical outcome, Zasuly says.
“It sounds so simple and basic but it’s true,” he says. “A lot of people go to the doctor and the doctor doesn’t hear them or doesn’t appreciate the situation they’re in. So, the most important thing is to understand what their goal is and how to help them get there. Or if you can’t help get them there, find somebody who can.”
When he isn’t treating patients, Zasuly can be found doing “every extra-curricular thing” he can.
“Anything with two wheels I’m obsessed with. I’m a dirt biker, motorcyclist and bicyclist. We boat, I travel. My children just got certified to scuba dive because my wife and I scuba dive. We went to St. Croix right before the coronavirus shut everything down. And we dove listening to whales singing for the first time. It sounds just like in the movies and TV. You just hear them squeaking and singing while you’re diving.”
Dr. James Zasuly is a plastic surgeon with Plastic Surgery & Skin Specialists by BayCare Clinic. He sees patients in Green Bay and Kaukauna.
About BayCare Clinic
BayCare Clinic, baycare.net, is the largest physician-owned specialty-care clinic in northeastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. BayCare Clinic offers expertise in more than 20 specialties, with more than 100 physicians serving in 16 area communities. BayCare Clinic is a joint partner in Aurora BayCare Medical Center, a 167-bed, full-service hospital. Follow BayCare Clinic on Facebook and Twitter.