Changing futures through surgery
Plastic and reconstructive surgery is incredibly powerful. It can completely change someone’s future. However, all over the Asia Pacific, millions of people with treatable conditions are living with disability, and in many cases dying, because they can’t access or afford the care they need.
People who have a disability are more vulnerable to poverty than those who don’t.
Children with disabilities are less likely to attend school than non-disabled children. Adults with trauma to limbs may not be able to work and provide an income for their family. Reconstructive surgery can change that. It can make a significant difference in patient outcomes and decrease the years of life lost due to highly treatable disability .
On our surgical programs and many of our training and mentoring activities, Interplast gives free surgical treatment to people who otherwise couldn’t access procedures that could restore their ability to function fully and give them new hope. While they work, our volunteers train and mentor local professionals, laying the foundations for stronger health systems with no need of outside help.
Our surgical programs usually go for one to two weeks. The visiting medical professionals volunteer their time and skills, and Interplast organises all the necessary medical equipment and supplies, to reduce the burden on local resources.
Interplast collaborates with local partners to plan, deliver and evaluate programs, obtaining all local permits and approvals, identify appropriate patients and assure quality post-operative care is after the team departs..
Everywhere our teams go, they help build the capacity of local medical personnel to manage in-theatre and pre- and post-operative care.
Interplast’s work has changed the futures of more than 23,500 people, across 25 countries, for many of whom a relatively simple surgery has enabled an immediate, permanent and remarkable transformation. And the impact doesn’t stop there – it flows from the patient to their families, friends and the broader community.
Conditions Interplast treats
While plastic surgery is often considered synonymous to cosmetic surgery, plastic and reconstructive surgeons are in a unique position to treat much of the global burden of surgical disease – conditions including burns, traumatic injuries and congenital anomalies, which when appropriately treated, can restore function to an individual, and enable them to live a full, productive life.
Congenital conditions – those with which a child is born – may include cleft lip and palate, congenital hand and foot anomalies such as syndactyly (fingers or toes fused together) polydactyly (extra fingers or toes), ear conditions such as microtia (where the outer ear is underdeveloped) and other various craniofacial conditions.
Burns – acute and contracted scars
Burns have been described as a ‘solvable global public health crisis ’. With half the world’s population relying on open flames to cook, heat and light their homes, accidents are all too common. Hundreds of thousands of deaths are caused by burns annually, with the vast majority occurring in low to middle income countries. However, for every person who dies as a result of their burns, many more suffer permanent disfigurement. Without immediate access to appropriate management of severe burns, burn injuries are left to heal themselves, resulting in burn scar contractures which often lead to significant life-long disability. In most cases, a patient’s functionality is severely limited – hands may have fused into a ‘mitten’ as a result of the skin contracting during the healing process. A foot might attach to the shin or a chin might attach to the chest.
Trauma requiring reconstruction
In our partner countries, road trauma is common, as are other injuries including hand injuries from industrial accidents and bush knives. Our teams treat many patients who require reconstruction of lower or upper limbs following injury.
Tumours and other soft-tissue deformities
Interplast teams are treating an increasing number of both benign and malignant tumours, cysts, lipomas and other similar conditions – in many cases due to isolation or lack of appropriately trained local medical personnel, patients do not present with these conditions until very late, often resulting in severe disfigurement, or tumours which weigh the same as an additional limb.