July 3, 2018 — Venice, Florida-based reconstructive surgeon Ali Haas, M.D. ’84, has built a career spanning more than 30 years based on one guiding principle: There is no challenge he cannot meet and conquer. From establishing new wound care procedures to tackling difficult surgeries following patient trauma to designing motor oil for his Ferrari Enzo, Haas has found the biggest challenges yield the biggest rewards.
At Venice Plastic Surgery, the practice he founded in 1990, Haas holds himself and his team to a standard of excellence others would consider impossible. For Haas, there is no excuse for sub-par performance.
“Our patients deserve the best care that we can give them, period,” he says. “If I can do better, I always do so.”
Haas has established a reputation in southwest Florida as an innovator in wound care since opening the first wound clinic in the area at Venice Regional Bayfront Health Hospital. As a reconstructive surgeon, Haas often treats patients following severe trauma or injury. He credits his residency and fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for preparing him to later innovate new methods of wound care. From the late founder and first chief of the UNC division of plastic and reconstructive surgery, Earle Peacock Jr., Haas learned that when it comes to wound care, less is often more.
“Physicians have trouble with wound care. I was the first in town to admonish the use of toxic chemicals to treat wounds. I told doctors and nurses that peroxide was toxic to human tissues, and wounds should only be cleaned with plain soap and water. That’s the standard now,” Haas says. “As Earle Peacock said, ‘If you cannot put it in your eye, don’t put it in your wound.’”
Ever since Haas was a high schooler growing up in New Jersey, he knew surgery would be his future. At the age of 17, he watched an educational program about hand injuries and reconstruction. From that moment on, his career path was decided. A year later, he traveled south to Gainesville to study cell biology and biochemistry as an undergraduate student at the University of Florida. In addition to his studies, which he said felt more like fun than work, he enjoyed playing and coaching rugby. When he entered the UF College of Medicine in 1981, he found a camaraderie similar to the sports teams he had been a part of.
“In medical school, everyone is your brother or sister. If one person fails, so does the team. There was a closeness, a bond, that was beyond comprehension,” Haas recalls. “We made it through because of the people we worked so closely with day after unending day.”
From his general surgery residency and plastic surgery fellowship at UNC, Haas learned the importance of time.
“In surgery, there is no wasting time. You have to make every motion count,” he says. “There are those who wait for things to happen and those who make things happen. I make things happen.”
The same can be said for Haas’s time spent away from the office.
The self-described “Fix It Man” keeps himself busy at home with his electronics shop, a growing collection of radio-controlled, turbine-powered model jet airplanes and in his 2,000-square-foot garage, where his Ferrari Enzo is powered by a motor oil of his own design.
For Haas, form has always followed function. He designed and closely participated in the construction of his Mediterranean-inspired home in Osprey, Florida, with ease of care and longevity in mind. Each room — from the wine cellar to the music room to the billiards room — was built for efficiency of use.
Just as he guides the team at his plastic surgery practice, Haas lives his personal life with a commitment to constant advancement.
“There is no project I do that cannot be improved upon,” Haas says. “I never stop innovating.”