Saturday, June 19, 2010

Plastic Surgery Week I - Carissa

This week has opened my eyes to an area of medicine that is completely new to me - surgery. Much of the next 6 weeks I will be shadowing plastic surgeons in the operating room and their meetings with patients, but I hope to observe much more than just this one aspect of medical practice.

I have already witnessed a wide variety of procedures, despite the short time I've been here. My first day in the OR I witnessed the reconstruction of an ischemial pressure sore in a paraplegic patient. The damaged tissue was removed, and a gluteal flap was cut and sewn into place to fill the gap where the tissue was missing. It is amazing how such a procedure can be used to keep a patient from losing a leg due to the spread of an infection.

Our second case that day was the start of a skin flap to cover 3rd degree burns on the ankles of a diabetes patient. The patient had developed neuropathy, so he couldn't feel his ankles getting burned until the burn had completely destroyed the skin around his ankles. Skin grafts had failed to heal, so they sent the patient to Dr. Spector for a skin flap procedure. The surgeon removed the infected tissue from the wound and cut a nearly closed circle of skin, retaining the nerve bundles and vasculature to cover the wound. Then he sewed it back in place to allow the blood vessels to dilate before the skin flap is moved over to cover the burn.

These were two of the four procedures I was able to observe this week. They are two very good examples of how plastic surgery is much more than just face lifts, botox, and other elective surgeries. It is amazing to see how plastic surgery really does have a lot of application in reconstructive procedures essential for helping the patient heal.

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