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The scope of plastic surgery

Plastic Surgery techniques are used to deal with a wide range of conditions and every part of the body from the toes to the top of the head

Common reconstructive procedures are the closure of wounds following accidents or after the removal of tumours, contracture surgery for burns survivors, breast reconstruction for women following mastectomies, cleft lip and palate surgery and attachment of severed body parts. The conservation of upper and lower limbs after severe trauma, aimed at restoring function, is a better option than amputation.

Only four hospitals in the country have plastic surgery units – Middlemore, Waikato, Hutt and Christchurch – however plastic surgeons are routinely called upon to operate in most large public hospitals. While each unit does the full scope of procedures, the care of patients in secondary centres who present with complex problems requiring tertiary-level Plastic surgery may be compromised because of inadequate access to appropriate expertise.

Plastic and reconstructive procedures are very time consuming with many operations taking more than four hours. These tie up operating theatres for long periods of time, both for acute and elective cases. Some conditions – like burns – require multiple operations for several years.

There is a desperate need for more theatre time for plastic and reconstructive surgery.