Plastic surgery in times of Corona


Working in healthcare it is a calling. You become a doctor because you want to help people who are sick. One of the surgeons in my pre-training general surgery class said to me at the time that plastic surgery training was a waste of money. Nonsensical surgery.

With the corona crisis, the whole world changed. Many things in life are reviewed. Basic things like health care and health care workers that were less appreciated for years are now getting applause.

Our hospitals are particularly concerned with seriously ill corona patients. Private clinics are closed. Hardly any “ordinary care” is done anymore. And apparently you can. So is much of what we did redundant? Everyone understands that a tummy tuck or breast reduction is not a priority right now. So is that unnecessary care? In times of luxury and abundance, hardly any questions are asked about this. Now there are discussions about who does and does not qualify for a respiratory spot in times of shortages in intensive care.

Plastic surgery does not save lives as acute repair of burst body artery (burst aneurysm) does. Plastic surgery does improve quality of life. Moving on through life without a breast is certainly possible, of course. But we know undergoing breast reconstruction contributes to a better quality of life. When a person has lost 50 kg after gastric bypass surgery, it is much healthier for this person. Yet the amount of excess skin after massive weight loss gives such a psychological strain that without plastic correction, relapse is faster and the weight comes back on quickly.

No life-saving surgery, but significantly better quality of life. Under normal circumstances quite understandable, however, now interventions first postponed.

So what does the plastic surgeon actually do?

Our outpatients are almost completely canceled and are handled by telephone whenever possible. Necessary cancer surgeries continue so we are still asked to close defects in breast-conserving surgeries, for example, but also defects after throat cancer, breast cancer and skin cancer, for example, that cannot simply remain open.

Helping out in healthcare

Younger colleagues have been deployed to the ICUs and emergency rooms to assist. Outpatient assistants and nurses are assigned to the corona ward. We ourselves have been retrained and are going to be deployed this week as ward physician in the corona ward. This way we can help the seriously ill and hopefully assist the heavily burdened pulmonologists, internists and intensivists in their not only physically but also psychologically demanding work. In this way, the vocation still resurfaces. Helping sick people, people in need.

How will things go after the crisis is over?

Plastic surgeons will no longer deal with seriously ill people, but will start doing “ordinary care. “Nonsensical surgery? as the surgeon said at the time? I don’t think so. We make people happy, improve their lives. This is how we help people. The coronavirus showed us that we are vulnerable, made us think about our lives, our work and how we can contribute to society. Despite my inexperience with the work I will now do, I hope the old surgeon can still be somewhat proud of what I do, even if it is not surgery. Let’s hope the crisis doesn’t last too long.

Stay healthy,

Geregeld zul je hier een blog vinden van onze plastisch chirurgen. Wil je automatisch een bericht krijgen bij een nieuwe blog? Schrijf je dan in op onze nieuwsbrief.

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