Although many people around the world seek plastic surgery for cosmetic purposes, others are in need of plastic surgery for medical reasons. Fortunately, many plastic surgeons take time out of their practice in America in order to provide medical services for those overseas, according to Our Colorado News.
One surgeon, based in Lone Tree, Colorado, is one of many who leaves the comfort of their private practice in order to provide medical services in impoverished countries. Partnering with the charity organization Outreach Africa, the surgeon visited the country of Tanzania, where he and his team treated more than 350 patients.
Medical services in Africa are different than in the U.S., to say the least. Many conditions that would be normally treated in the U.S. are not taken care of in Africa, either due to cost or a lack of plastic surgeons.
"If it's a life-and-death issue, they deal with it," the surgeon told the news source. "If it's congenital, a hand injury, a burn, it doesn't rise to that level."
While a typical day in a plastic surgery clinic the U.S. may involve performing a facelift procedure for a client, the types of surgeries in demand in Tanzania are quite different. The plastic surgeon was put to work helping repair cleft palates, serious burns and severe hand injuries.
Reconstructive plastic surgery has applications at home as well. According to the American Society for Plastic Surgeons, popular non-cosmetic procedures in the U.S. include laceration repair, hand surgery and dealing with scarring after a trauma or burn.
The plastic surgeon who visited Africa noted that while there are major differences in the reasons for plastic surgery when comparing America to other nations, some parallels still apply. For example, repairing a cleft palate of a young teenager in Tanzania greatly improved the boy's chances of finding a wife, locals said. When the surgeon returned home, performing surgery on the ears of a boy who had been bullied at school would help him socially as well.
There are a number of different charities performing plastic surgery work abroad, so an exact count of those who have been helped by surgeons is difficult to estimate. One of the largest groups, Volunteers in Plastic Surgery, says more than 150,000 adults and children have received medical attention from plastic surgeons through volunteering.