Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery touches the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in Australia and New Zealand every year. Specialist Plastic Surgeons are trained to restore, rebuild and transform the lives of patients affected by injury, birth anomalies, cancers and other diseases.
Specialist Plastic Surgery training also includes cosmetic surgery and cosmetic procedures. Whether the surgery is reconstructive or cosmetic, Specialist Plastic Surgeons apply their skills to deliver the best possible aesthetic outcome for the patient.
The Foundation uses the latest evidence in plastic and reconstructive surgery to inform our education and research. We deliver community-awareness campaigns and outreach programs which aim to make a real difference to people’s lives, such as our wound management program in the top-end of Australia.
Managing Wounds in Remote Communities
Wounds are a $2.85 billion p.a. health issue in Australia with more than 400,000 patients suffering chronic wounds each year. While specialist care is centralised to urban centres, most wounds are managed at a local community level.
The problem also disproportionately affects remote indigenous Australian communities where injury is the second most common reason for hospitalisation.
Responding to this community problem, in 2018, a grant from the Commonwealth Government (IAHP), enabled us to deliver training workshops in remote areas of the Top End. This is an Australia-first and at its heart is the opportunity for knowledge exchange between Specialist Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons and remote health workers.
Our innovation is to deliver a program whereby volunteer Specialist Plastic Surgeons will, for the first time, travel to remote settings to provide hands-on practical training on wound care in remote settings to Remote Medical Practitioners, Remote Area Nurses and Aboriginal Health Practitioners.
The program provides learning modules on wound closure and suturing techniques, face-to-face clinical assessments and train the trainer workshops. As well as providing new skills to local people, it gives surgeons new knowledge about traditional and local approaches to wound care.
Our Wound Management Program is planned and delivered in collaboration with remote health authorities, government organisations and peak bodies working in the Top End to maximise our impact and minimise duplication.
Approximately 57,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live in remote communities in the Top End and they are the beneficiaries of our training for Aboriginal Health Practitioners, Remote Medical Practitioners and Nurses.
Tackling Poor Body Image
Dissatisfaction with body image is a growing issue in Australia, New Zealand and around the world. A recent survey of young Australians aged 15-19 years revealed body image is one of the top three concerns identified by young people.
That’s way we are taking the lead on a new campaign to encourage young people to think carefully about choosing surgery as a quick fix for body dissatisfaction issues.
The campaign will counter aggressive or misleading advertising and marketing about cosmetic surgery with facts, lived examples and research.
We are also working with global experts to develop new, best-practice clinical tools to support Specialist Plastic Surgeons and other practitioners to recognise underlying mental health issues in patients seeking appearance altering surgery.
Case study: New clinical aids tackle ‘quick fix’ myth
In 2018, the Foundation hosted the world’s leading researcher in the field of appearance psychology, Professor Emerita Nichola Rumsey, to assist with the development of new clinical aids for cosmetic surgeons.
The aids will improve patient outcomes by helping clinicians identify patients not suitable for cosmetic procedures due to psychological risk factors and/orunrealistic expectations of what can be achieved through surgery.
“Young Australians with an appearance in ‘normal range’ are seeking procedures that are not medically necessary, exposing them to unnecessary surgical and psychological risks. Examples include labia trimming and injectables such as lip fillers and Botox. “We are deeply concerned about the growing number of young Australians turning to cosmetic surgery as a quick fix solution to body image issues.”
Professor Emerita Nichola Rumsey OBE
The Foundation will provide these resources to current and trainee specialist plastic and reconstructive surgeons. Professional development courses will also be offered to clinicians to help them better understand the links between mental health, body image and cosmetic procedures.