In the Spotlight: Amber Leis, M.D.

Since joining CHOC’s plastic surgery divison two years ago, Dr. Amber Leis and an expert multidisciplinary team at CHOC have developed a one-of-a-kind brachial plexus surgery program for children in the region and beyond. She is also working with her team to continue to expand services for children with facial paralysis, cerebral palsy and complex wounds.

A board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Leis treats everything from brachial plexus birth palsy, trigger thumb, syndactyly, and thumb hypoplasia, to ganglion cysts.

“I love the challenge of these cases, especially pediatric congenital hand anomalies, and I cherish the long-term relationship I build with patients,” she says.

Additionally, Dr. Leis is working on several research projects tied to brachial plexus reconstruction.

“One of these projects aims to gain consensus from experts around the globe regarding the management of specific nerve injury patterns. I spent some time in Toronto and Taipei this past year as part of this project. I am also working closely with our therapists to understand the way different rehabilitation techniques improve our outcomes,” she explains.

Dr. Leis’s interest in surgery dates back to her college years. “When I was in college I went to work in a hospital in Zimbabwe for four months to do research. While there, I ended up assisting in surgery. It changed my life, and I have been passionately pursuing surgery ever since.  My parents were both artists, and I think surgery brought my life into harmony: being from an artistic home, and being a good scientist,” she says.

Dr. Leis attended medical school at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She completed her residency in plastic surgery at Loma Linda University Medical Center, and a fellowship in orthopedic hand surgery at University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.

Today, Dr. Leis’s philosophy for caring for her patients is compassionate and straightforward. She puts the emotional well-being of her patients first. Her highest priority is that they feel cared for and healed, she explains.

“My patients have such a deep strength to them. They allow me into their lives and let me be part of their healing journey. They have taught me about compassion, love, and the capacity to overcome,” she says.

Dr. Leis is a member of the American Association for Hand Surgery and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, among other professional organizations. She has presented at many conferences throughout the country and published in various publications, such as the Annals of Plastic Surgery and Aesthetic Surgery Journal.

When she is not taking care of patients at CHOC or UC Irvine Medical Center, Dr. Leis loves spending time with her husband, a filmmaker. Together, they hike, travel and dabble in photography. She also enjoys running, drawing and baking.

Learn more about plastic surgery services at CHOC.