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Dr. Sherif Emil, Pediatric Surgeon, Scars1 Hero

Drs. Sherif Emil and Nabil Fanous: Pioneering Surgical Techniques in Children to Eliminate Unsightly Scars

October 27, 2009

Dr. Sherif Emil, MD is the Director of the Division of Pediatric General Surgery at the Montreal Children’s Hospital and Associate Professor of Surgery at McGill University. Born in Cairo, Egypt, Dr. Emil earned his medical degree from McGill University in 1991 and completed his residency at Loma Linda University in California. In 2005, he served as the Chief of Pediatric Surgery at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) until his recruitment into Montreal Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Emil has been active in basic and clinical research, publishing more than 50 manuscripts and several book chapters on many topics in pediatric surgery. His laboratory research on inhaled nitric oxide in the 1990’s produced the first publications on this topic in the surgical literature. His clinical and research interests include neonatal bowel obstruction and perforation, gastroesophageal reflux, pediatric appendicitis, minimally invasive thoracic surgery, and surgical outcomes. His research results were recently featured nationally in Surgery News.

Dr. Emil has a passion for teaching, and was honored with five major teaching awards during his seven years at UCI, including the American Medical Student Government Leadership and Service Award in 2008. Dr. Emil also has an ongoing interest in international surgery, and has participated in three missions to east Africa where he collaborates with local surgeons, typically spending 2-4 weeks operating on patients, teaching and lecturing. In partnership with a missionary pediatric surgeon in Kijabe, Kenya, Dr. Dan Peonaru, he has designed a “switch practice model”. This model allows for surgeons to trade places for a month every year, so one can help the needy while giving the other a chance to stay in touch with modern pediatric surgery. In 2010 pediatric surgery fellows from the Montreal Children’s Hospital will be spending one month in Kenya as part of the first training program in North America to integrate a third world rotation in their fellows’ training program.   

Dr. Emil is a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Canada, the American College of Surgeons, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. He is also a member of several professional organizations; his many accomplishments having led to his selection as one of America’s Best Doctors in 2007.

Dr. Emil is committed to continuing a strong clinical and academic profile for the Division of Peidatric General Surgery at McGill and the Montreal Children's Hospital. The “Pediatric Surgical Research and Education Fund” is being developed for the Division. Those interested in contributing can send their tax-deductible donations to the Montreal Children’s Hospital at 2300 Tupper, Room C-818, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3H 1P3. Pediatric Surgery Fund # 63236 should be noted on the check. 

Doctor FanousDr. Nabil Fanous is the Associate Professor of Facial Plastic Surgery and Head and Neck Surgery at McGill University and Université de Sherbrooke. He is triple board certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, Facial Plastic Surgery and Head and Neck Surgery.  Dr. Fanous obtained specialized training in cosmetic surgery and facial plastic surgery with plastic surgeon, Dr. R. C. Webster, in Boston, MA.  He is board ceritfied in "Cosmetic Surgery" and "Facial Plastic Surgery" in the US, and also has double Canadian certification in Head and Neck surgery, and Otolaryngology in Canada and Quebec.

Dr. Nabil Fanous has published numerous scientific publications in the field of cosmetic and facial plastic surgery for both national and international medical journals. He is also the Director of the Canadian Institute of Cosmetic Surgery, founding member and Vice President of the Canadian Academy of Facial Plastic Surgery.

Dr. Fanous has received numerous acknowledgements for his work, including two certificates from the House of Commons of Canada “in recognition of the dedication and contribution to the Canadian Society”.


In late 2008, eight-month-old Jayden Cambridge’s family brought him to the Montreal Children’s Hospital. Jayden had a bump growing in the middle of his forehead, which concerned his parents. When Dr. Sherif Emil examined him, he realized that the boy had a benign congenital tumor, called a dermoid cyst.  Dr. Emil also realized that traditional surgery to remove such a mass would leave a significant scar.   In addition, bi-racial Jayden was dark-skinned and therefore at even higher risk of dramatic scarring.

Jayden Before Picture

“Scarring is more of an issue with kids [than adults],” Dr. Emil states.  “Kids have to grow up with those scars and other kids are not so diplomatic”.

Fortunately Dr. Emil was current with the scientific literature.  He knew from reading the Journal of Pediatric Surgery that surgeons at Stanford’s Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital had recently published an endoscopic technique to remove benign forehead masses. Jayden was an ideal candidate for such a technique. Dr. Emil approached Jayden’s parents; “I had to make clear to the family the risks- this was one-of-a-kind surgery.” The family agreed to move on.

Take Action
Tips for dealing with pediatric surgery
  • If your child has a growth, ask if it can be removed endoscopically to minimize scarring 
  • In selecting a pediatric surgeon, look for the following characteristics:
    1. Good with families 
    2. Broad medical education 
    3. Known for good surgical technique
  • Due to the complexity of the surgery, Dr. Emil knew he had to find a collaborating surgeon with facial plastic endoscopic expertise.    “These were known techniques,” Dr. Emil said, “but for cosmetics, not pathology.” A renowned adult head and neck surgeon with extensive facial plastics experience, also at McGill University, Dr. Nabil Fanous thereby became Dr. Emil’s partner in Jayden’s surgery. 

    Jayden surgery

    Jayden’s surgery took place on August 27, 2009.    Because of a significant amount of pre-planning, including dry runs with the actual surgical team and instrumentation, it went smoothly.   It was not without surprises, however.    Jayden’s tumor turned out to be encased in a thin crater of bone, which also had to be excised.    One and a half hours later, the surgery was over. The only evidence of the tumor removal was a small scar above Jayden’s hair line.   

    "We… appreciate the fact that Dr. Emil went to all of the trouble to make sure my son wouldn’t have to live with an ugly scar on his face.   I really feel he went the extra distance and, for this, my wife and I are very grateful”, reported Ron Cambridge, Jayden’s dad, in a Montreal Children’s Hospital press release afterwards.

    Jayden with parentsDr. Emil believes that the endoscopic scar-minimizing technique used on Jayden Cambridge can benefit many other children. “Most pediatric facial lesions - 95% of which are benign- are candidates”, he states, in a message of hope.     





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