Dr. Harvey Alan Zarem, a world-renowned plastic surgeon and native Savannahian, age 83, died Sunday, November 1st, 2015, surrounded by his loving family at his home in Savannah, Georgia.
Harvey was born on February 13th, 1932 at the Telfair Hospital in Savannah to parents Harry A. Zarem and Rose Gold Zarem. He attended prep school at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts and graduated from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where he was Chairman of the Junior Prom and member of the prestigious senior society Scroll and Key, before embarking on one of the most storied careers in plastic surgery. After medical school at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, New York, Dr. Zarem was the Chief Resident in General Surgery at the Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts before completing his surgical training as a Resident in Plastic Surgery at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.
Dr. Zarem then joined the faculty of the University of Chicago as Professor and Chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, a role he held for 7 years before leaving for Los Angeles, California to serve in the same role at the UCLA Medical Center and School of Medicine for 14 years. He then opened a private practice in Santa Monica, California, which he continued in Savannah when he returned to his hometown in 2011.
Widely regarded as the “Dean of Plastic Surgery,” Dr. Zarem pioneered numerous techniques commonplace in the medical field today, including liposuction and reconstructive post-cancer surgery of the breast. He also produced seminal treatises on eyelid surgery and treatments of hemangiomas (vascular malformations) in infants and children. Aside from his outstanding clinical practice, he trained over 50 leading plastic surgeons in the United States and abroad, and his research laboratory produced valuable information on microcirculation. He gave countless university lectures, international presentations and radio interviews. His talents were sought by movie stars, Hollywood elite, and leaders from around the globe. Early appearances by Dr. Zarem on the television show Extreme Makeover helped to make the show successful.
Dr. Zarem maintained a classic view of the practice of medicine and made many efforts to protect the field of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and its image. He was famously interviewed on CBS’s 60 Minutes where he exposed fraudulent plastic surgeons advertising in the Los Angeles area, about which local authorities were doing nothing. Later, the California legislature voted to allow dentists to practice plastic surgery and the bill was vetoed by the Governor, largely due to lobbying efforts by Dr. Zarem during his tenure as President of the California Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Dr. Zarem was an avid sailor, tennis player, photographer, ham radio operator, fly fisherman, hunter, and outdoorsman. As a lifelong educator, Dr. Zarem happily volunteered his expertise and countless hours of his free time to the Los Angeles City Fire Department’s Auxiliary Communications Service, the Beverly Hills Police Department, the Beverly Glen Community Disaster Preparedness Program, and as a Major in the Georgia State Defense Force, to name a few.
Harvey is survived by his wife Beth of 34 years; six children, Hal, Melissa, and Allison by his first wife, and Kathryn, Mikey, and Robbie by Beth; six grandchildren, and his brother, Bobby. He was preceded in death by his older brother, Danny.
Graveside service is at Bonaventure Cemetery at noon on Thursday, November 5th.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be sent to the Lewis Cancer and Research Pavilion – 225 Candler Drive, Suite 204, Savannah, Georgia 31405; or the charity of one’s choice.