By Christopher Burns on March 28, 2015
For many, the idea of plastic surgery conjures images of the TV series Nip/Tuck and Dr. 90210, where physical perfection is the ever-elusive goal.
But plastic surgery is a much deeper field of medicine, defined not by vain aesthetics but by the molding and reshaping of any part of the body — for true medical reasons.
When Wiltonian Dr. Mark Melendez, a plastic surgeon, travels to perform volunteer surgery in Vietnam, he is not met with movie stars looking to get a “nose up” on the competition. Rather, he’s met with men, women and children suffering life-affecting problems.
Last week he returned from his most recent trip, where he performed a wide range of services at National Pediatric Hospital, Viet Duc Hospital, Vin Mec Hospital, Hong Ngoc Hospital, and Thai Nguyen Central General Hospital, all in Hanoi.
“This trip we mainly focused on breast cancer,” Dr. Melendez said, before recalling one patient “with an open wound in her chest wall from radiation. Basically, the radiation had impacted the cartilage and bone in her sternum. She had walked around with this open wound for two years.”
Dr. Melendez and his colleagues were able to remove part of a muscle from her back and move it to the chest well. “That was pretty compelling,” he said.