In December the annual winter meeting of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons took place at the Royal College of Surgeons in London. It was a superb high calibre meeting, and I feel we in the UK have learnt a lot from our colleagues abroad in how to set up and run a good conference. This year it was held in collaboration with our American colleagues, from the American Association of Plastic Surgery over 4-days.
Topics I found particularly interesting included:
Advances in the use of fat for grafting
We heard some very interesting discussions and lectures on the pros and cons of fat grafting. This is a technique where fat is taken from the body in a manner similar to liposuction, processed in the operating theatre, and then re-injected to other parts of the body to use as a filler material. It can be used all over the body, and has a good track record for use in the face and for correcting contour irregularities elsewhere.
The use of fat in the breast is still somewhat more controversial, as there remains a degree of uncertainty about its possible effect on stimulating breast cancer. The evidence seems to be mounting that it is safe, but it is too early to be able to give any 100% guarantees.
A very good study was presented, examining scientifically through digitally analysed images, how long a facelift actually lasted. Up until now it has been the opinion of plastic surgeons and their patients that has provided the figures we quote. This was the first study to look at things objectively. The results? After 5-years, most people still looked younger than they did before their facelift; ie, a facelift lasts at least 5-years. We normally quote around 7-years, so this is probably still true.
Face transplants, the complete picture
The seminal lecture of the conference was delivered by the head of the face transplant team from Ohio in the USA. The most fascinating aspect of the talk was not so much on the technical side of how it was done, but rather the planning, training, build-up and patient selection involved. It really was mind-blowing: 10-years in the planning, over 1000 trial runs performed and a team of dedicated doctors who met regularly on their weekends and other spare time to ensure everything worked well.
The results for the patient were excellent, and several years on, she continues to do well.