Fundamental Topics in Plastic Surgery – a solid grounding in many fundamental principles and procedures is an absolute prerequisite to becoming a competent plastic surgeon
The plastic surgeon is both an artisan and an artist and aims to re-create what is lost following injury, disease, or the aging process. The medium is the living tissue, with its own fickle intrinsic power of repair and memory. At its best, the surgeon’s repair will be a replica of what was lost in form and function, with the almost invisible mending of primary healing; at its worst, it will be the scarred horror of secondary healing with contraction and deformity. How does the surgeon ensure that the pendulum is always weighted toward the former? Like all artistic pursuits, although plastic surgeons will likely boast an element of innate talent, they cannot perfect their craft until they have mastered its underlying fundamental principles. Very often in life and in our jobs, we assume we understand core principles and proceed directly to the specifics of a task. But these fundamentals may never have been learned, and instead were subliminally assumed and accreted piecemeal, often from disparate contexts, and, when challenged, we realize that our understanding is superficial and often erroneous. In plastic surgery, without a thorough grounding in these fundamentals, we are destined to flounder because they are the key to design concepts, technical mastery, and the avoidance of complications.
Fundamental Topics in Plastic Surgery, edited by Dr. Diego Marré, is the one we all wish we had read before our entrenched habits took hold. It teaches us principles we did not even know we did not know. It is targeted at the plastic surgery trainee/resident level, but it is an excellent source for those who are not trainee as well as those who are specialists. It aims to cover all the fundamentals so that the reader, once grounded in the conceptual roots, can confidently move on to the specifics of plastic surgery. It deliberately excludes detailed surgical techniques. The authors are a balanced mix of those of the younger generation and senior specialists. The former bring new talent, their own perspective and insights as to what is important and what is not, and a refreshing contemporary feel to the work. The latter bring invaluable experience and expertise unique to senior specialists.
Fundamental Topics in Plastic Surgery is of a digestible size, has a limited but targeted scope, avoids repetition, and is engaging and a joy to read. It collates and distills the latest information, which is not readily accessible in standard texts. The format and style are uniform and pleasing. The text is presented in two sections: Principles and Techniques. The principles presented in section 1 are interesting and eclectic. The chapters provide detailed discussion of topics that are often taken for granted or are not presented in easy format elsewhere and hence are never fully learned or understood. Examples include safety in the operating theater, antibiotics in plastic surgery, biomaterials, osteosynthesis, and statistics for plastic surgery. Section 1 also impresses on us the collaborative and interdisciplinary role that plastic surgeons play and the need to understand the fundamentals of other disciplines, as highlighted by chapters on dermatology, infections, and osteosynthesis. Section 2, Techniques, gives us the core requirements for success: blood supply, wound healing and suture techniques, and flaps and grafts, among many others.