The Centre for Minor Surgery
5109 Steeles Avenue West – Unit 300
Toronto, ON M9L 2Y8
Phone: (416) 663-9649
Monday–Friday: 8 a.m.–4 p.m.
Meet Dr. Robert Backstein
Robert Backstein, M.D., is a Royal College-certified plastic surgeon and Toronto native. He completed both a medical degree and a 5-year plastic surgery residency at the University of Toronto and fellowship training in plastic surgery through the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
Dr. Robert Backstein, along with his brother Richard, established the Centre for Minor Surgery (CFMS) to help people with skin cancer and benign lesions restore a sense of normalcy and confidence to their lives—quickly and without hassle.
Learn more about the doctor’s background, training, and motivations in this question-and-answer session:
Who or what were your influences growing up?
My early influences were mainly my parents and grandparents who all stressed the importance of academics and striving to do the best job I could no matter the task at hand, be it school academics, sports, parenting, or whatever. My grandparents survived the horrors of World War II, came to Canada, and accomplished great things here. Their journeys have always been an inspiration to me and allowed me to put my own life challenges into the proper perspective.
When did you decide to be a plastic surgeon?
During medical school, I shadowed many different surgical specialists and I chose plastic surgery mainly because of the artistic nature of the field and the diversity of sub-specialties. I was very attracted to the fact that plastic surgeons perform surgery on pretty much every part of the human anatomy; they are not super-focused on specific areas the way many other surgical specialists are.
Why did you decide to focus on minor surgery?
I really enjoy the daily pace of minor surgery—operating on many patients every day and performing a diverse array of procedures. I also enjoy doing procedures under local anesthesia as it affords me an opportunity to converse with my patients while I work. Most have extremely interesting life stories and I enjoy learning about their occupations, family stories, and especially military experiences in the case of some of my older patients.
Why did you decide to go into practice with your brother?
We get along well and share a common interest in minor surgery. Richard and I really never have conflicts; our personalities tend to complement each other well. We have very similar goals and ambitions for our careers, so it seemed like a natural move.
What is it about your work that you find rewarding?
On the medical side, it is extremely gratifying to manage patients through difficult diagnoses such as melanomas and other skin cancers. It is very rewarding to help patients who are anxious about the health implications of their diagnoses and also the aesthetic implications, especially in the case of facial skin cancers that need surgery. I enjoy applying my experience and training to surgically manage them to achieve medical cures and optimal cosmetic results that return patients to a sense of normalcy in their lives.
On the elective, lumps-and-bumps side of the practice, it is very rewarding to treat patients and have them remark on how easy the procedure was and less painful and anxiety-provoking than they were worried and even expecting it would be. This is an extremely common reaction amongst this patient group. It is exciting that we have developed a clinic that so many members of the Toronto and Ontario community are finding to be a resource they need and appreciate.
What is a common misconception patients have about having skin lesions removed?
Many patients are under the impression that surgery performed by plastic surgeons won’t leave a scar. I think this is attributable to a lot of misinformation in the media about plastic surgery. I find my role as a patient educator very rewarding in that by describing the reality of the situation and the reality about scars and scarring, I present my patients with the information they need to make informed the decisions that suit them best.
I tend to stress issues such as the inevitability of scarring with surgical procedures and the best way to manage the recovery process so that anxieties about healing are kept to a minimum. At the same time, I make sure my patients are aware that at CFMS, we are laser-focused on using techniques that will minimize scars and optimize the final results.
What are the advantages of choosing your practice over a dermatologist or general surgeon?
Plastic surgeons tend to be meticulous and detail-focused by nature and by virtue of their extensive training. We are trained to think about every procedure, even medically necessary ones, with aesthetics in mind. As such, when seeing a plastic surgeon at CFMS for minor surgery such as lipoma, mole, or cyst excision, we will prioritize making the smallest incisions possible to effectively treat the lesion, and therefore leave the smallest length of scar, as well as using cosmetically optimal approaches to wound closure such as by using subcuticular/intradermal closures of the skin which are designed to produce better quality and less noticeable scars.
How do you enjoy spending time outside of work?
I love spending time with my two kids who are avid hockey players and spend a lot of time on the ice. I’m also very much into physical fitness, love the gym, and biking in the spring and summer. I also consider myself to be a foodie and enjoy trying new restaurants around Toronto and abroad.
What do you enjoy about living in Toronto?
Toronto has truly become a world-class city and I have witnessed first-hand its explosion onto the world scene since I have lived here my whole life. Toronto is a perfect hybrid of a giant metropolis with all that has to offer—like great entertainment, sports, restaurants, shopping, and academia—and a quieter, clean, and very spacious city. It’s only about a 2-hour drive north to our cottage country which is a vast, green world of its own and New York State is about 2 hours to the south, so the options are many here in Toronto.
How do I get started?
Easy online appointment request – no referral needed
Same day procedures save you time
Get back to your life without missing a beat