Listening to Dr. Elan Singer reminisce about his childhood growing up in Chappaqua, it is easy to appreciate how idyllic this town is. There were soccer games, bike rides into town to visit his mother’s store ICD Contemporary Jewelry and practices with the Greeley ski team. But more than anything he credits his time volunteering during his teenage years with the Chappaqua Volunteer Ambulance Corps (CVAC) as setting him on his chosen career path as a preeminent plastic surgeon with an office in Manhattan and a recently opened practice at Radiance MedSpa on North Bedford Road in Mount Kisco.
Dr. Singer, a 1990 Greeley graduate joined CVAC as part of the youth corps when he was 16 and became an EMT when he was 17. “I carried a beeper around high school and my experience at CVAC was integral in helping me choose medicine as a career.”
A medical officer in the Navy Reserves, Dr. Singer spends one weekend a month at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, which is the largest American military hospital in the world. It treats all branches of the US military. “My reserve unit is actually very special because we are the only unit that does surgeries at Walter Reed on the weekends there.” During the month, Dr. Singer communicates with the active duty surgeons at Walter Reed about cases and when he goes down there, Dr. Singer helps offload some of the backload of cases that the active duty plastic surgeons aren’t able to get to. “It’s mostly elective surgeries now, so breast reduction or reconstruction but in years past, we had a lot of wounded warriors.”
All reservists are eligible to be mobilized to war-torn areas such as Iraq or Afghanistan. Most are mobilized for eight months. Some of his medical colleagues in the Reserves have been mobilized but Dr. Singer notes that other specialties such as orthopedics, anesthesia and neurosurgery are in higher demand overseas. “In plastic surgery, most of the work we do is highly specialized and needs a lot of infrastructure so that tends to take place here in the United States. We are dealing a lot with reconstruction so we see the same patients repeatedly for multiple surgeries.”
Dr. Singer likes the large complex surgeries that he performs on Reserve duty. But he’s equally skilled at performing elective cosmetic surgeries such as liposuction, skin rejuvenation services, facelifts and body contouring procedures on his patients in Manhattan and Westchester. He enjoys the diversity of surgeries that he gets to perform at Walter Reed and in his private practice.
As a Reservist, Dr. Singer is required to spend two weeks a year performing plastic surgery as part of his commitment. His last two weeks of service was on the USNS Mercy, a large naval ship that went on a humanitarian mission to Asia in July where he performed several surgeries on Vietnamese civilians. He’s also served as a physician on the ships that station in NY Harbor during Fleet Week as part of his two-week commitment on Reserve duty.
In addition to the humanitarian mission that he did with the Reserves, Dr. Singer has also gone on civilian humanitarian missions to Haiti after the earthquake to perform pro-bono plastic surgery. As a chief resident at Mount Sinai Medical Center, he flew to Southern Nigeria to work on burn reconstruction patients. “Each one of these humanitarian medical missions “was unique and very eye-opening to me as a young surgeon.”
Dr. Singer’s family connection to the military is quite extensive. His father was in the Navy as a doctor in the submarine service in the late 1960s. His mother was in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) as a spokeswoman for the IDF to the foreign press, providing them with details at media briefings during the Six Day War. His grandfather was a physician in the army in France during WWII and landed six days after D-Day. “So I’m actually the third generation in the US Military as a physician in my family.”
Dr. Singer is looking forward to building his new practice in Mount Kisco. Although he currently resides in Manhattan with his wife and three young children, he enjoys coming up to his hometown to spend time with his parents and his children enjoy spending time outdoors in their grandparent’s backyard just as he did as a young boy.
Stacey Pfeffer lives with her husband and three young children in Chappaqua. She has written for New York Family Magazine, Westchester Parent, Westchester Family Magazine, Kveller.com and Inside Armonk.