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Plastic Surgery Fellowship

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The Humanitarian Side of Plastic Surgery

When patients think about plastic surgery, breast implants, rhinoplasty and facelifts come to mind. But physicians know that plastic surgery is a complex and essential field of medicine, which has the power to transform many people’s lives all over the world.

Humanitarian and pro bono work is encouraged in this profession, but how you choose to use your skills to improve others’ quality of life is really up to you. Here are some examples of the NGOs and organizations that can take care of all the hard work for you, so you can concentrate on the surgeries you plan to perform.

Humanitarian Plastic Surgery

This organization is a non-profit that educates the public about plastic surgery, and connects plastic surgeons with partner organizations in India, Africa, South America, Haiti and Central America. Their partner organizations include Operation Smile, Rotaplast International, Surgical Volunteers International, Global Smile Foundation, Medical Missions for Children, Volunteers in Plastic Surgery and Caring for Kids. Here’s how to take a volunteer vacation with Humanitarian Plastic Surgery. They are perfect for anyone who gets bored on vacation.

The Plastic Surgery Foundation

This important organization uses research and innovation to help the world. It set up Volunteers in Plastic Surgery to put the research into practice. Here’s more about their work.

Facial Plastic Surgery and The Face to Face Program

Facial Plastic Surgery set up FACE TO FACE in 1992. It’s a humanitarian and educational surgical exchange program to help people who suffer from facial deformities cause by birth and trauma as a result of domestic violence and war. You can donate your time and expertise to help people in the USA or in places like Vietnam, Croatia, Russia or China. Take a look at the programs available.

Here’s a video about one of the face to face missions in Vietnam.

Plastic Surgeons Reflect on Humanitarian Missions

After recalling the various possible objectives of humanitarian missions in underprivileged countries, the doctors that went on missions during the late 1990s reflected on their 3-week missions with Interplast (now ReSurge International).

The missions were conducted in India, Pakistan, Thailand, Vietnam and Afghanistan. The organization provided an onsite supply of anesthetic and all disposable materials. Fifty to 100 operations were performed during each mission over a fortnight at a local hospital. The diseases most frequently observed were cleft lip and palate and post-burn skin retractions. But what the doctors really learnt from their missions was the fact that the mission director must be an experienced surgeon in order to select the most reliable and the simplest procedure. They analyzed the meaning of their commitment and the way in which this humanitarian action is perceived by the recipient country in the full article, which can be accessed here.

In 2015, two doctors from Long Island went to Nepal and India to attend to earthquake survivors and burn victims, with the same organization. “I remember one patient whose injury was so severe he could have lost his leg,” said Dr. Davenport, one of the surgeons who went to Nepal to perform microsurgery, “but we were able to save him. It’s really gratifying to be able to help out on difficult cases like that.” Dr. Simpson, who visited Dehradun, which is about 160 miles north of New Delhi, treated patients that had been burned as children. Because their injuries were not treated appropriately, their wounds developed into disabling scar contractures and prevented their hands and arms from allowing normal movement. The patients Dr. Simpson saw were getting their disabling injuries treated 25 to 30 years after the original traumas, and managed to restore their ability to move their hands and arms. “It’s so gratifying to be able to help them after all this time,” said Dr. Simpson. Find out more about ReSurge International here.