Wai-Yee Li, M.D., Ph.D.

Clinical Specialties
  • Plastic Surgery
Areas of Expertise
  • Breast cancer reconstruction
  • Chest and abdominal wall reconstruction
  • Skin cancer resection and reconstruction
  • Vaginal reconstruction
Other Languages Spoken
  • Cantonese
“I absolutely love Dr. Li and have nothing but high praise and the best to say about her. …very caring and personal approach…. The best doctor I could ask for… - City of Hope cancer survivor”

When patients are diagnosed with cancer, many ask, "How will I look once my cancer is taken away?" As a wife and mother of two, Wai-Yee Li M.D., Ph.D., recognizes the importance of restoring patients after cancer surgery. “Whether it’s the face or the breast, people want to look and feel as normal as they can after their cancer is removed. Surviving cancer is about having a good quality of life and feeling great about yourself."
 
Dr Li specializes in postcancer reconstruction all over the body, including breast, chest and abdominal wall, vaginal reconstruction and skin cancer resection and reconstruction. She recently set up a Skin Cancer Excision Clinic, at City of Hope's Duarte campus, allowing patients easier access to one-stop outpatient surgery.
 
A board-certified diplomat of the American Board of Plastic Surgery, Dr Li obtained her membership of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 2001. Born and raised in London, England, Dr Li is of Chinese origin and is fluent in Cantonese. She earned her Bachelor of Science in pathology, with honors, from the University of Birmingham, England, where she also completed her Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery.
 
Following an internship in internal medicine and general surgery, Dr Li first encountered breast cancer patients as a general surgery resident at the world-renowned Royal Marsden Hospital. However, instead of performing mastectomies, she was far more interested in how to reconstruct patients’ breasts. This was the trigger to embark upon plastic and reconstructive surgery training at the Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead. She went on to pursue a Ph.D. in wound healing and craniofacial development, at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, granted by the University of Manchester. 
 
During this time she was awarded multiple fellowships including The Joint American College of Surgeons and Royal College of Surgeons of England USA Fellowship, the CHLA Research Institute Career Development Award and the Wound Healing Foundation/3M Fellowship. Dr. Li then completed her six-year residency in plastic and reconstructive surgery at University of Southern California in Los Angeles. This was followed by a pediatric plastic surgery fellowship at the University of British Columbia, Canada.

During her training, Dr. Li was the recipient of several honors, awards and scholarships and holds active memberships with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the Wound Healing Society and the World Association of Plastic Surgeons of Chinese Descent. She has authored numerous peer-reviewed publications, two book chapters, and is frequently invited to present her work at international conferences and meetings. Most recently, she presented work on nipple-sparing mastectomy reconstruction in Wuhan, China and Hong Kong. She also serves as a reviewer for Hand Journal, as well as on the editorial board for the Annals of Plastic Surgery journal.

Locations

Duarte

1500 East Duarte Road, Duarte, CA, 91010

Get Directions

Phone :  626-256-4673

South Pasadena

209 Fair Oaks Ave., South Pasadena, CA, 91030

Get Directions

Phone :  877-998-7546

Degrees

  • 2002-2008 - University of Manchester, England, Wound Healing and Craniofacial Development
  • 2000-2001 - Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead, England, Senior SHO Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
  • 1997-1999 - The Royal Marsden and St. Heliers Hospital, Surrey, England, Basic Surgical Training
  • 1990-1996 - University of Birmingham Medical School, England, MB, ChB, Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery
  • 1994-1995 - University of Birmingham, England, B.Sc., Pathological Studies, with Honors

Fellowship

  • 2014-2015 - Pediatric Plastic Surgery Fellow, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Residency

  • 2008-2014 - Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, University of Southern California, Los Angeles

Internship

  • 1996-1997 - Internship, Medicine and Surgery, Crawley Hospital, West Sussex, England
  • Diplomate, American Board of Plastic Surgeons
  • California Medical License
Peer-reviewed Publications
 
Getting a Valid Survey Response from 608 Academic Plastic Surgeons. Reinisch JF, Yu DC and Li WY. Annals of Plastic Surgery. March 2015. In Press.

Prevalence and Awareness of Authorship Issues: A Study of Academic Plastic Surgeons. Reinisch JF, Li WY, Yu DC and Walker JW. Plast Reconstr Surg. Aug 2013: 132(2):303e-10e.

Bilateral spontaneous flexor digitorum profundus tendon rupture of the fifth digit: case report and literature review. Li WY, Rommer E and Kulber DA. Hand. May 2013: 8: 239-241.

Guide to Early Surgical Management of Lip Hemangiomas Based On Our Experience of 214 cases. Li WY, Chaudry O and Reinisch JF. Plast Reconstr Surg. November 2011:128 (5):1117 – 1124

Pits, Cysts and Tumors. Li WY and Reinisch JF. Plast Reconstr Surg. July 2009 ;124 (1 Suppl):106e-116e.

Signaling through Tgf-beta type I receptor Alk5 is required for upper lip fusion. Li, WY Dudas M. and Kaartinen V. Mechanisms of Development. 2008. 125 (9-10) 874-882.

Tissue-specific expression of Cre recombinase from the Tgfb3 locus. Yang, LT, Li, WY and Kaartinen, V. Genesis. 2008. 46(2): 112-118.

Invited Review: Palatal Fusion – Where Do The Midline Cells Go? Dudas M, Li WY, Kim J, Yang A and Kaartinen V. Acta Histochemica. January 2007, 109 (1-14).

Epithelial And Ectomesenchymal Role Of The Type I TGF-b Receptor Alk5 During Facial Morphogenesis And Palatal Fusion. Dudas M, Kim J, Li WY, Nagy A, Larsson J, Karlsson S, Chai Y and Kaartinen V. Developmental Biology. Aug 2006, 296(2):298 - 314.

TGF-b3 Affects PAI-1 Expression In Fetal Mice And Modulates Fibroblast-Mediated Collagen Gel Contraction. Li WY, Huang EY, Dudas M,, Kaartinen V, Warburton D and Tuan TL. Wound Repair Regeneration. June 2006, 14 516 - 525

The Plasminogen Activator/Plasmin System: A Major Player In Wound Healing? Li WY, Chong, SN, Huang EY and Tuan TL. Wound Repair Regeneration. 2003, 11 (4) 239 -247.

Reliability Of Pre-Operative Biopsies In The Histological Grading Of Colorectal Adenocarcinomas. Burton S, Li WY, Eddy B, Reddy K, Aslam M, Owen ERTC and Weston J. Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. 2003, 85 (1) 23-25

Microdochectomy In Women Aged Over 50 Years. Burton S, Li WY, Himpson R, Sulieman S and Ball A. Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. 2003, 85(1)
47-49
 
Book Chapters
 
Master Techniques in Orthopedics: Fractures. Ed: Wiss DA. Chapter 46: Gastrocnemius and Soleus Rotational Muscle Flaps: Soft-Tissue Coverage. Sherman R and Li WY. 3rd Edition. Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins. 2012

Comprehensive Cleft Care. Eds. Losee J and Kirschner RE. Chapter 29: Complications of Cleft Lip and Palate Surgery. Reinisch JF, Li WY and Urata M. New York. McGraw-Hill. 2008
 
Invited Presentations and Abstracts

Immediate Direct-To-Implant Reconstruction After Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy: Is This A One-Staged Reconstruction? A Review Of 202 Cases. Burg, M, Li, WY and Andersen JS. 67th Annual Meeting of the Californian Society of Plastic Surgery, San Francisco, 2017

Post-Mastectomy Breast Reconstruction (Cantonese). Li WY. Herald Cancer Association, Los Angeles, April 2017

Immediate Direct-To-Implant Reconstruction After Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy: Is This A One-Staged Reconstruction? A Review Of 202 Cases. Burg, M, Li, WY and Andersen JS. Annual Scientific Meeting of the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, Santa Barbara, January 2017

‘One and Done’ – Single-Stage Direct To Implant After Mastectomy. Li, WY. Faculty Speaker. World Association of Plastic Surgeons of Chinese Descent. 5th Congress of the World Association of Plastic Surgeons of Chinese Descent, Wuhan, China. November 2016

Post-Surgical Pyoderma Gangrenosum of the Breast: Is Future Surgery Prohibited? Li, WY, Andersen, JC and Andersen JS. Surgical Forum, Clinical Congress American College of Surgeons, Washington, DC, October 2016
 
Neonatal Airway Management in Pierre Robin Sequence: The Vancouver Classification System. Li, WY, Poon, A, Courtemanche DJ, Verchere C, Robertson S, Malic C, Bucevska, M and Arneja, J. Annual Meeting of Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons, Victoria, June 2015
 
Pyoderma Gangrenosum after Free Tissue Transfer for Breast Reconstruction. Li WY, Andersen J and Andersen JA. 4th World Association of Plastic Surgeons of Chinese Descent. Hong Kong, November 2014

Medpor Ear Reconstruction: A Twenty Three Year Experience with 1042 Ears. Reinisch JF and LI WY. 93rd Annual meeting of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons. Miami, April 2014

Getting A Valid Survey Response Rate from 608 Academic Plastic Surgeons. LI WY, Yu D and Reinisch JF. American Society of Plastic Surgeons Annual Meeting, San Diego, 2013.

July 4th Firework-Related Hand Injuries: The Los Angeles County Hospital Experience. LI WY, Yang H and Ghiassi A. Senior Residents Conference, San Diego, 2013.

Cutis Aplasia Congenita. Reconstruction of Lesions of the Vertex by Tissue Expansion and Serial Z-plasty. LI WY, Rommer E and Magee WM. Annual Scientific Meeting of the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, Santa Barbara, 2011

Who’s on First: Authorship Issues in Plastic Surgery. Li WY, Yu D and Reinisch JF. 62nd Annual Meeting of the Californian Society of Plastic Surgery, Coronado, 2012

TGF Beta Signaling In Craniofacial Morphogenesis: New Insights Into Cleft Lip And Palate Development. Li WY. Bernard Sarnat Day, Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, USA 2009

The Role of TGF-beta signaling in upper lip formation. Li WY, Dudas M, and Kaartinen V. Surgical Forum, 94th Clinical Congress American College of Surgeons, San Francisco, USA 2008

Early Surgical Management of Lip Hemangiomas: Fifteen Year Experience With 214 cases. Li WY, O Chaudry and Reinisch JF. 87th Annual meeting of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons. Boston, USA 2008.

Deletion Of TGF-Beta Receptor Alk5 In The Epithelium Results In Cleft Palate. Li WY, Dudas M, Kim J and Kaartinen V. Surgical Forum, 92nd Clinical Congress American College of Surgeons, Chicago, USA. 2006

The 3M Award Research Seminar: Fetal Scarless Healing: The Role of TGF-beta3 and PAI-1. 15th Annual Meeting of the Wound Healing Society, Chicago, USA. 2005.

The Saban Research Institute Research Seminar: Fetal Scarless Healing and the Protease Balance. The Saban Research Institute, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, USA. 2005.

Fetal Scarless Healing: The Role of TGF-β3 and PAI-1. LI WY. Scholarships Luncheon, Clinical Congress American College of Surgeons, New Orleans, USA. 2004.

The Role of TGF-β3 signalling and PAI-1 in matrix contraction. Li WY, Huang EY, Chong SN, Dudas M, Kaartinen V, Warburton DW, Andersen KD, Tuan TL. Surgical Forum, 90th Clinical Congress American College of Surgeons, New Orleans, USA. 2004.

Fetal Wound Healing: Altered Collagen Gel Contraction by Skin Fibroblasts Deficient in TGF-β3. Li WY, Huang EY, Chong SN, Kaartinen V, Warburton DW, Andersen KD, Tuan TL. Annual Meeting of the American Society of Cell Biology, San Francisco, USA. 2003

Fetal Wound Healing: Increased PAI-1 in TGF-β3 deficient Mice. Li WY, Huang EY, Chong SN, Kaartinen V, Warburton DW, Tuan TL. Third Southern California Wound Healing Symposium, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, California, USA. 2003

Fetal Wound Healing: The Role of TGF-β3. Annual Childrens Hospital Los Angeles Research Institute Developmental Biology Retreat, La Canada, California. 2002

Improving Pre-Burns Centre Management: The Introduction of a New Transfer Proforma. Cubison T, Pirayesh A, Li WY, Ashworth K, Sim K, Gilbert P. Presented at (i) 3rd International Conference on Trauma Care, Edinburgh, UK, June 2001, and (ii) 9th Congress of the European Burns Association, Lyon, France, September 2001

Familial Breast Cancer Referral: Did We Really Need To See You? Li WY, Burton S, Eddy B, Ball AS, Murday V. British Association of Surgical Oncology Meeting, Glasgow, UK, 2001.

Routine Mammography for Breast Cysts. Is it Worthwhile? Li WY, Bryson J, Ball AS, Reddy KM. Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland Millenium Meeting, Cardiff, UK, May 2000

Extracellular Antigen Processing: A Possible Route To Aberrant Extracellular Antigen Presentation? Li WY, Young SP, Kitas G. British Society of Immunology Annual Conference, Southampton, UK, March 1994
 
The Impact Of NSAIDS On The Workload Of ICU. Janowski S, Li WY. Southern Society of Anaesthetists Annual Meeting, St Helier Hospital, Surrey, UK, June 1999     

The Potential Impact Of Endovascular Stenting On Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Practice In A District General Hospital. Herriot AG, Slater G, Li WY, Raymond T, North T, Thomas PR. Surrey Vascular Group Meeting, Guildford, UK, January 1999
  • American Society of Maxilofacial Surgeons
  • American Society of Plastic Surgeons
  • World Association of Plastic Surgeons of Chinese Descent
  • Royal College of Surgeons of England
  • 2014, Leonard R. Rubin, American Association of Plastic Surgeons Best Paper Award
  • 2013, Southern California Clinical and Translational Institute Pilot Funding Award, Novel Methods and Technology: Tissue Engineered Auricle for Microtia application
  • 2012, The Operation Smile Stryker Fellowship to Fund Mission trip to Fengkai, Guangzhou, China
  • 2006, American College of Surgeons Excellence in Research Award
  • 2003-2004, The Joint American College of Surgeons and Royal College of Surgeons of England USA Fellowship
  • 2003, 3M/American Wound Healing Foundation Young Investigator Fellowship Award
  • 2002-2003, Children's Hospital Los Angeles Research Institute Career
  • 1995, Francis Brett Young Scholarship
  • 1995, The University of Birmingham Graduate Travel Award
  • 1995, The British Medical and Dental Students Trust Travel Award
  • 1995, The Arthritis and Rheumatism Council Medal in Rheumatology
  • 1994, The Arthritis and Rheumatism Council Scholarship
  • 1994, The Medical Defense Union Elective Travel Award
  • 1993, Medical School Best Essay Prize in Pathological Studies, University of Birmingham, England
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