Plastic surgery is frequently carried out for cosmetic reasons rather than life-threatening conditions and whilst anticipating my week in Plastic Surgery, I wondered whether I might catch a glimpse of a boob job or even a ‘designer vagina’.
Alas, whilst I didn’t see any cosmetic surgery, there was the curious case of a testicle that had lost its surrounding skin due to gangrene. It was all shiny, red and weeping like a ripened plum fallen straight from the tree. Surgery involved removing a wafer thin slice of skin from the thigh with a tool that closely resembled a cheese grater. For this skin graft to attach, the testicle had to be sliced and scratched. And boy, did that testicle bleed. I found it difficult to watch and still can’t imagine how that must have felt for the poor man.
Later on in the week I worked with a hand surgeon who had a reputation of dissecting the students rather than the anatomy. Under an icy stare, I was told to draw out the entire structure of the hand – nerves, muscles, tendons, bones, and blood vessels. Unfortunately, all I could manage were five fingers.
I then met a man who he was desperate for reconstructive surgery after losing part of his nose to skin cancer. Historically, this was done by creating a nose from tissue taken from the arm, the tissue between the two having to be kept linked to maintain the blood supply while the new nose established itself. This required the patient to have their arm in a fixed position in a sling next to their face for many months.
Further operations were then required to fashion this ‘pedicle’ into a nose. Fortunately, there is now a much better solution – a section of the forehead can be partially removed and twisted round to fashion a new nose. This concluded my week in Plastic Surgery. Join me next issue for my outlook on Obstetrics.
Bethany Moos, Impact Science Columnist