Dr. Debra Bourne

About Dr. Bourne

Debra A Bourne, MD is a board certified hand surgeon. She earned her medical degree from Yale School of Medicine.  She completed her residency at the prestigious University of Pittsburgh Medical Center which is consistently ranked among the top training programs in the country.  She then completed additional fellowship training in hand surgery. 

Personal Statement

My father was a talented and dedicated veterinary surgeon. I share his love of anatomy and using my hands to restore form and function. I chose to become a plastic surgeon because it truly blends art and science. I then went on to complete additional fellowship training in hand surgery because I am captivated by the complex interactions of bones, tendons and soft tissues within the hand and upper extremity.

Practice Philosophy

As a hand surgeon, I rely on my hands to make a living and support my family.  I understand how important it is to all the patients I care for to get their hands working well so they can get back to work, family, sports, music, art, and the other things in life that are important and meaningful. 

Education & Training

Dr. Bourne completed both her plastic surgery residency and hand surgery fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center which is consistently ranked one of the top medical training programs in the country.

Dr. Bourne completed her Doctor of Medicine at Yale University.  She additionally completed a thesis studying the role of oxidative stress in the development of skin cancer.

Dr. Bourne earned her Bachelor of Science from the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University.


Diplomate Of The American Board Of Plastic Surgeons
Sub Specialization In Hand Surgery


Best Free Paper Presentation American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons Winter Meeting 2021

Best Scientific Presentation of State and Regional Societies at American Society of Plastic Surgeons The Meeting 2021

Frank J Krobath Award at Rita M Patel GME Leadership Conference 2020

Best Presentation Award in Practice Management Session at American Society of Plastic Surgeons The Meeting 2019

Best Surgical Education Presentation University of Pittsburgh Department of Plastic Surgery Resident Research Day 2019

Best Clinical Paper Plastic Surgery Research Council Annual Meeting 2019

Second Place Clinical Presentation Ohio Valley Society of Plastic Surgeons Meeting 2019

Best Overall Poster Ohio Valley Society of Plastic Surgeons Meeting 2017

Best Clinical Research Presentation University of Pittsburgh Department of Plastic Surgery Resident Research Day 2017

Best Overall Presentation Robert H. Ivy Society of Plastic Surgeons Meeting 2017

Best Clinical Research Presentation University of Pittsburgh Department of Plastic Surgery Resident Research Day 2016

Best Overall Paper Ohio Valley Society of Plastic Surgeons Meeting 2016

Best Overall Paper Ohio Valley Society of Plastic Surgeons Meeting 2016

Best Basic Science Paper Ohio Valley Society of Plastic Surgeons Meeting 2016

Nationally Recognized Leadership

1/2017 – 10/2020  |  Women Plastic Surgeons Steering Committee – American Society of Plastic Surgeons

11/2018 – 10/2021  |  Leadership Development Committee – American Society of Plastic Surgeons 

11/2018 – present  |  Reviewer for Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Journal

10/2021 – present  |  Reviewer for HAND Journal

11/2021 – present  |  Young Plastic Surgeons Steering Committee – American Society of Plastic Surgeons

Research & Publications

Dr. Bourne Is Active In Medical Research. Her Specific Areas Of Interest Include:

Optimizing and exploring the role of fat grafting and adipose derived stem cells in reconstructive surgery:  As a plastic surgeon, my clinical and research endeavors strive to improve form and function. The immense regenerative properties of stem cells are starting to be widely appreciated. Adipose derived stem cells as well as structural fat can be safely and easily harvested in large quantities through liposuction. This can then be engrafted to treat areas of volume deficit or poor tissue quality throughout the body. Additionally, stromal vascular fraction (SVF) can be isolated from lipoaspirate through collagenase-based procedures. This represents a rich source of adipose derived stem cells and other progenitor cells that may be added to fat prior to engraftment to potentially enhance its regenerative properties and volume retention. Patients suffering from painful lower extremity amputations sites benefit from fat grafting to areas of poor soft tissue coverage and enrichment with SVF results in earlier pain relief. I have participated in several clinical trials assessing the efficacy of autologous fat transfer with and without SVF enrichment for the treatment of craniofacial volume defects and painful lower extremity amputation stumps. Our results demonstrate that fat grafting is safe and effective in improving craniofacial volume defects and the addition of SVF does not impact volume retention in this patient population. I plan to continue to study the applications of adipose derived stem cells throughout the body. 

Exploring career and family outcomes for women physiciansWomen now compose half of the medical students, however, the number of women entering surgical professions has lagged behind and an even greater discrepancy is seen in leadership positions. Our data demonstrate that women are underrepresented in Academic Plastic Surgery Leadership positions and that women are significantly more likely than men to report inequality in professional opportunities due to gender. Furthermore, fifty-six percent of women who become pregnant during plastic surgery residency reported suffering from an obstetrical complication and more than half were dissatisfied with their maternity leave. I am working to increase recognition of these issues and work towards greater equality and wellness of women and other underrepresented minorities in medicine.

1. Smith DA, Hoang D, Broer N, Narayan D. Acellularized Cadaver Dermis for Reconstruction of Complex Scalp Defects. Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Aesthetic Surgery. 2012 Mar;65(3):406-7.

2. Spock C, Smith DA, Narayan D. Minimally Invasive Groin Dissection.  Connecticut Medicine. 2012 May:76(5):273-7.

3. Lewis J, Filler R, Smith DA, Golubets K, Girardi M. The Contribution of Langerhans Cells to Cutaneous Malignancy. Trends in Immunology. 2012 Dec;31(12):460-6. 

4. Bourne DA, Ahuja N, Gimbel ML. Analysis of the Vertical Mammaplasty Design in Skin-Sparing Mastectomy and Immediate Autologous Reconstruction. Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery. 2016 Jan;69(1):23-9. PMID: 26422654

5. Bourne DA, James I, Wang S, Marra K, Rubin JP. The Architecture of Fat Grafting: What Lies Beneath the Surface. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 2016 Mar;137(3):1072-9. PMID: 26910691

6. Coombs DM, Bourne DA, Egro FM, Solari MG. Reconstructing Defects of the Lower Lip.  ePlasty. 2016;16(ic50).PMID: 28090242

7. Davidson E, Wang EW, Yu JY, Fernandez-Mieranda JC, Wang DJ, Li Y, Miller M, Sivak WN, Bourne DA, Wang H, Solari MG, Schuman JS, Washington KM. Clinical Considerations in Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation of the Eye. Journal of Craniofacial Surgery. 2016 Oct;27(7):1622-8. PMID: 27513765

8. Sivak W, Bourne DA, Miller M, Manders E. Simplified Calvarial Reconstruction: Coverage of Bare Skull with GammaGraft Promotes Granulation and Facilitates Skin Grafting. Journal of Craniofacial Surgery. 2016 Oct;27(7):1808-9. PMID: 27557466

9. Samra S, Bourne DA, Beckett J, Matthew M, Thomson G. Decision-making and Management of Ulnar Polydactyly of the Newborn: Outcomes and Satisfaction. Journal of Hand Surgery Asian-Pacific Volume. 2016 Oct; 21(3):313-20. PMID: 27595947

10. Bourne DA, Li Y, Komatsu C, Miller MM, Davidson EH, He L, Rosner IA, Tang H, Chen W, Solari MG, Schuman JS, Washington KM. Whole Eye Transplantation: A Look into the Past and Vision for the Future. Eye. 2017 Feb;31(2):179-84.

11. Bourne DA, Sivak W, Spiess AM. Current Trends in Local Flaps of the Hand. Current Orthopaedic Practice.  2018 March/April;29(2):127-34. 

12. James IB, Bourne DA, Silva M, Havis E, Albright K, Zhang L, Kostereva N, Wang S, DiBernardo G, Guest R, Lei J, Almadoroi A, Satish L, Marra K, Rubin JP. Adipose Stem Cells Enhance Excisional Wound Healing in a Porcine Model. Journal of Surgical Research. 2018 Sept;229:243-53. PMID: 29936997

13. Bourne DA, Thomas RD, Bliley J, Haas G, Wyse A, Donnenberg A, Donnenberg VS, Chow I, Cooper R, Coleman S, Marra K, Pasquina PF, Rubin JP. Amputation Site Soft Tissue Restoration Using Adipose Stem Cell Therapy. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 2018 Nov;142(5):1349-52. PMID: 30511990

14. James I, Bourne DA, DiBernardo G, Wang S, Gusenoff J, Marra K, Rubin JP. The Architecture of Fat Grafting II: Impact of Cannula Diameter.  Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 2018 Nov;142(5):1219-25. Selected for PRS Journal ClubPMID: 30511975

15. Bourne DA, Chen W, Shilling BK, Littleton E, Washington KM, De La Cruz, C. The Impact of Plastic Surgery Training on Family Planning and Prenatal Health. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 2019 Nov;144(5):1227-36. PMID: 31688771

16. Guest RA, Bourne DA, Chow I, Gusenoff J, Rubin JP. The Impact of Massive Weight Loss on Psychological Comorbidities: A Large, Retrospective Database Review. Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. 2019 Dec;43(6):1570-4. PMID: 31598767

17. Fadia NB, Bliley JM, DiBernardo GA, Crammond DJ, Schilling BK, Sivak WN, Spiess AM, Washington KM, Waldner M, Tsung LH, James IB, Minteer DM, Tompkins-Rhoades C, Cottrill AR, Kim DY, Schewizer R, Bourne DA, Panagis GE, Schusterman MA, Egro FM, Campwala IK, Simpson T, Weber DJ, Gause T, Brooker JE, Josyula T, Guevara AA, Repko AJ, Mahoney CM, Marra KG. Long-Gap Peripheral Nerve Repair Through Sustained Release of a Neurotrophic Factor in Non-human Primates. Science Translational Medicine. 2020 Jan; 12(527). PMID: 31969488

18. Chen W, Baron M, Bourne DA, Kim JS, Washington KM, De La Cruz C. A Report on the Representation of Women in Academic Plastic Surgery Leadership. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 2020 Mar;145(3):844-52. PMID: 32097336

19. Bourne DA, Bliley J, James IB, Donnenberg AD, Donnenberg V, Branstetter B, Haas GL, Radomsky GL, Meyer EM, Pfeifer M, Brown SA, Marra KG, Coleman S, Rubin JP. Changing the Paradigm of Craniofacial Reconstruction; A Prospective Clinical Trial of Autologous Fat Transfer for Craniofacial Deformities. Annals of Surgery. 2021 May;273(5):1004-11. PMID: 30985369

20. Chen W, Bourne DA, Myers S, De La Cruz C. A Report of Gender Bias and Sexual Harassment in Current Plastic Surgery Training: A National Survey. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 2021 Jun;147(6):1454-68. PMID 34019520

21. Bourne DA, James IB, Wang S, Bliley J, Grahovac T, Mitchell RTM, Brown S, Ambrosio F, Ho J, Lannau B, Kemp PD, Gusenoff J, Rubin JP. Allogeneic Human Dermal Fibroblasts for Remodeling Scar Contractures: A Phase I/II Clinical Trial. Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery (accepted)

22. Wallace CC, Edmunds RW, Bourne DA, Wong L. Parenting in Plastic Surgery Residency. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (accepted)

23. Anderson WM, Lynch EB, Bonaroti AR, DeCoster RC, Vyas KS, Bourne DA, Lin KY, Vasconez HC. Update on the Basic Science Concepts and Applications of Adipose-Derived Stem Cells in Hand and Craniofacial Surgery. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery(accepted)

24. Kasemodel K, Hemal K, Chen W, Wallace C, Bourne DA. Evolution in Parental Leave Policies: Plastic Surgery and Obstetrics & Gynecology Lead the Way. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (accepted) 

25. Ma IT, Kim J, Bourne DA, Spiess AM, Imbriglia JE. Gouty Tendonitis of the Hand: An Algorithmic Approach. International Journal of Surgery and Reports (accepted)

26. Brisbin AK, Chen W, Goldschmidt W, Smith BT, Bourne DA. Gender Diversity in Hand Surgery Leadership. Hand (accepted)

27. Minteer DM, Bourne DA, Simon P, Egro F, Donnenberg A, Donnenberg V, Haas G, Wyse A, Rubin JP. Amputation-site soft tissue restoration and pain relief using autologous adipose therapies: A prospective single-center randomized clinical trial. JAMA Surgery (submitted)

28. James IB, Bourne DA, Minteer D, Wang S, Bliley J, Donnenberg AD, Donnenberg V, Branstetter B, Haas GL, Meyer EM, Marra KG, Coleman S, Rubin JP. Optimizing Fat Graft Processing: A Prospective, Controlled Clinical Trial Comparing Telfa Rolling versus Centrifugation for Fat Grafting Craniofacial Deformities. Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (submitted)

29. Suszynski TM, Fowler JR, Munsch M, Bourne DA, Chow I, Balk ML, Hagberg WC, Buterbaugh GA, Sivak WN, Imbriglia JE. Prospective Cohort Study Comparing Suture-Only Suspension Arthroplasty and Ligament Reconstruction with Tendon Interposition for the Treatment of Basal Joint Arthritis. Journal of Hand Surgery (submitted)