Plastic surgery is often described as an art, but can the development of traditional artistic techniques help plastic surgeons to produce better results? A group of plastic surgeons and medical students at the University of Lincoln in the UK are finding out in a course called the Art of Reconstruction. Now entering its second year, the course offers training in drawing and clay sculpture to promote better results during plastic and reconstructive surgeries
According to BBC News
, the course offers training in different approaches, including self-portraiture, life drawing, and clay modeling. The focus of the course centers on surgical applications of these techniques, so that drawings and models of the head, neck, and breast are featured.
This often involves some unusual tasks. For instance, some students use mirrors to draw self-portraits, but break their face into four quarters in order to create four separate drawings. They must combine and reposition these drawings in order to re-create their balanced face. In another task, students use clay to build a breast onto a cast of a female chest from which one breast is missing.
Emma Caroline Fernandez, a medical student from Debrecen, Hungary, says that the courses helped her to judge the proportion and size of the breast in a whole new way:
“Yesterday we did clay modelling and I thought I’d done a good job until I turned around, I went around the side, as mostly artists do, and then I noticed a huge gap. With the nose and the lips if you look from the front you can’t really judge the space between, until you look from another perspective.”
As a result of practicing these artistic techniques, many of the surgeons have adapted their surgical approaches. By adapting the light in the operating room, or looking at the breasts from different angles, they can get a new perspective on surgeries such as rhinoplasty and breast augmentation
(Image source: Jastrow, Wikimedia Commons
While there are no statistics on the subject, anecdotal evidence suggests that there is a rise in the use of plastic surgery by couples, according to a recent article
in the L.A. Times
. The story highlights the growing popularity of plastic surgery among men and a new cultural shift that sees spouses simultaneously pursuing cosmetic enhancement.
The most important factor in rising couples’ plastic surgery is the overall increase of cosmetic procedures performed on men, who now comprise 9 percent of all cosmetic patients. There seems to be a greater openness among men to the benefits of plastic surgery. According to Dr. Richard Chaffoo, a plastic surgeon:
“When a wife comes in and has work done and is delighted with the outcome, the husband or partner feels more confident and secure and more likely to ask questions. Men are often initially introduced when they come in with their wives, who are looking at having this or that done. When the husband is in there, he sees some of the information, and then he sort of gets interested. Then, when the wife comes in for a postoperation appointment, we’ll talk about his eyes or neck.”
Plastic surgeries such as liposuction
, eyelid surgery
, and rhinoplasty are popular with both groups, although naturally there are different priorities for men and women. Men often pursue liposuction in certain areas, most notably the abdomen, chest, and chin, while women might have liposuction performed anywhere on their bodies.
The most obvious difference is in the chest area, where women often have augmentation surgery
to enhance the appearance of their breasts, while men usually have male breast reduction surgery
to achieve smaller chests. Of course, with female breast reduction surgery and pectoral implants, both sexes can augment or reduce their chests’ appearance.
Fat grafting techniques that are already popular in the US and Europe may soon be recognized and covered in Australia by that country’s insurers, according to a recent article
in the Australian daily newspaper Herald Sun
Autologous fat grafting is an increasingly popular surgical procedure, with recent studies
revealing that it is safe and effective for breast augmentation
. The technique, which can also be used for facial
procedures, involves which using the patient’s unwanted fat – extracted via liposuction
from the buttocks, tummy, or another part of the body – to fill out other parts of the body. The fat is treated before being injected into the target site.
Fat grafting is not widely available in Australia, since most insurers refuse to cover the procedure, which leaves many surgeons in a difficult position. However, in the aftermath of the PIP silicone breast implants scandal – in which industrial-grade silicone was used in implants – many Australians are uncertain about placing foreign objects into their bodies. As a result, the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is in talks with insurers, hoping that they will cover the technique.
According to Dr. Graham Sellars, a leading Sydney plastic surgeon, fat grafting may soon become “one of the main techniques for both cosmetic and reconstructive breast surgeries… People will prefer to have their own tissue to something synthetic if it gives comparable results.
“You’re going to get a more predictable result with a silicone implant, but there’s now an alternative for people who don’t want implants…. A silicone implant will wear out. But it’s possible to have this kind of enlargement for life.”
While some Australian plastic surgeons remain skeptical, the results of recent studies have indicated that fat transfer techniques have improved greatly over the last decade, thanks to new methods and approaches. If the ASPS succeeds in its talks with medical insurers, the procedure may be covered in Australia within a year.
Autologous fat grafting is one of the most promising – yet also perhaps the most challenging – developments in the field of plastic surgery
in recent years. Research on more effective ways to transfer fat continues with a recent study
that indicates improved results with Selphyl, a platelet-rich fibrin matrix, in a discovery that could improve the prospects of tissue survival after autologous fat grafting.
By using the patient’s own unwanted fat to enhance other bodily features, autologous fat grafting has provoked a great deal of excitement since it was initially introduced as a widespread alternative to injectable fillers
. During a fat grafting procedure, liposuction
can be used to extract fat from one part of the body. The fat is then specially treated before being injected into the target site.
Unfortunately, fat grafting has some disadvantages, the most significant of which is that due to insufficient blood supply, some fatty tissue will likely not survive the grafting process. There have been a number of different studies engaged in finding new ways of grafting fat that will minimize the chances of tissue necrosis. This latest study was published in the American Journal of Cosmetic Surgery
Richard Goldfarb and Aaron Shapiro, the MDs who conducted the study, examined the surgical results for a 37-year-old woman who had fat from her outer thighs injected into her lower tummy. Two separate injections were used – one with fat and the other with a mixture of fat and Selphyl – so that the results could be compared side-by-side in the same patients.
An examination 8 weeks after the surgery revealed that the Selphyl had produced a greater number of blood vessels in the transplanted tissue. The authors concluded that Selphyl offered better results because of increased neovascularization, which enhances the chances of long-term results. “The result of this case study indicates that fat mixed with Selphyl may improve graft survival by increasing both neovascularization and total cell number.”