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Top 5 Plastic Surgery Innovations of the Decade

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Jeff Weinzweig, MD

Board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon who offers advice and information on all aspects of this specialty.


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1.  Face Transplantation.
With refinement of microsurgical techniques and immunosuppressive therapy protocols, facial transplantation has become a reality. In 2005, Dr. Bernard Devauchelle and Dr. Jean-Michel Dubernard performed the first face transplant in Amiens, France after Isabelle Dinoire's face had been ravaged by her dog.
 
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Isabelle Dinoire, the world's first face transplant patient.   

2.  Craniofacial Distraction.
Although the concepts originated in the early 1900s and were popularized by Illizarov in the 1950s for lower extremity lengthening, it wasn't until the early 1990s that Dr. McCarthy's  groundbreaking work on distraction of the mandible paved the way for the technological explosion that occurred this past decade as newer methods of performing craniofacial distraction have been refined.  These techniques permit the gradual advancement of various parts of the facial skeleton (e.g., mandible (lower jaw), maxilla (upper jaw/midface), frontal bone) to achieve a desired result with less risk of relapse of the bone to the original position. 

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3.  Hand Transplantation.
The first hand transplant to achieve prolonged success was directed byUniversity of Louisville surgeons Drs. Warren Breidenbach and Tsu-Min Tsai in cooperation with the Kleinert Hand Institute and Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. The procedure was performed on New Jersey native Matthew Scott on January 24, 1999. More recently, on May 4, 2009, Jeff Kepner, a 57-year-old Augusta, Georgia, resident, underwent the first double hand transplant in the United States at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

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Matthew Scott following hand transplantation.

4.  Non-Surgical Facial Rejuvenation.
Restylane and juvederm and radiesse, oh my!  The past decade has seen an explosion in new products and procedures to offer even the most skeptical a fountain of youth, of sorts. The incorporation of hyaluronic acid, the body's own natural extracellular matrix substance, into a myriad of these products has, indeed, proved effective in the war on aging.

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5.  Perforator Flaps.
The development of the "perforator flap" has added a new dimension to reconstructive plastic surgery, permitting the preservation of valuable rectus muscle, in the case of breast reconstruction, and facilitating a myriad of reconstructive options for a diverse scope of reconstructive needs. Such flaps are based on a specific arterial "perforator" vessel that supplies the blood supply to the entire flap of tissue without the need to incorporate adjacent muscle into the flap for the sole purpose of enhancing perfusion to the flap.

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The deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap for breast reconstruction. 

 

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