American Society of Plastic Surgeons
Log In For Consumers

Karen B. Vaniver, MD, passes at age 56

Karen B. Vaniver, MD, Pasco, Wash., passed away suddenly on June 1 at age 56.

Dr. Vaniver was the chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Lourdes Health in Pasco, and a member of The PSF Maliniac Circle. Dr. Vaniver held several ASPS leadership positions during her career, including membership on the Society's Public Education, Instructional Course, Marketing and Women Plastic Surgeons Steering committees; the Council on State Affairs; and the Young Plastic Surgeons Forum.

"Karen was as a whirlwind of creativity, joy, color, kindness and life," says close friend and fellow plastic surgeon Linda Leffel, MD Bend, Ore. "She had incredible empathy for her patients and friends, and she was a great listener. Quick to laugh, Karen was always ready for adventure or to help a friend. I'll miss our standing lunch engagements at meetings." Dr. Leffel adds that she plans to create a scholarship in Dr. Vaniver's honor.

"She enriched so many lives, including mine," she says. "I will miss her."

ASPS past President Scot Glasberg, MD, a colleague and friend of Dr. Vaniver's, says she always maintained a calm demeanor and will be fondly remembered by those she knew.

"At our board and committee meetings, Karen would always show up with a smile and a hug," he says. "At times, while others were getting anxious over an issue, Karen always remained cool and measured – and always ready to offer help and advice. She will be missed by her colleagues."

Dr. Vaniver was born in Philadelphia and graduated Magna Cum Laude with honors from Temple University. She earned her medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1986. After completing a plastic surgery residency at Brown University – where she received the Resident Teaching Award – she began a plastic surgery fellowship at the University of Florida.

Dr. Vaniver maintained a private solo practice in Missouri from 1994 through 2005. She served on the Heartland Regional Medical Center Wound Care Program, and served as a medical director for, and received a prestigious commendation from, The Joint Commission. Dr. Vaniver also served as president of the Buchanan County Medical Society and the Missouri Association of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons. She spent the latter part of her career at Lourdes, where she focused on breast reconstruction and cosmetic surgery of the face, breasts and body – including reconstruction of complex cosmetic breast surgery problems. She also consulted on the management of complex wounds.

Dr. Vaniver is survived by her mother, Phyllis Vaniver; her sister, Andrea Bingeman; her brother-in-law, Steven Bingemen; one niece and one nephew; and five cousins. A memorial service was held June 10 at her home, with a second slated for Philadelphia at a date not yet specified. In lieu of flowers, donations are being accepted in Dr. Vaniver's name by the National Breast Cancer Foundation at