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The Reconstruction of Venus: Following Our Legacy

Menick, Frederick J. M.D.

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Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: January 2009 - Volume 123 - Issue 1 - p 429-430
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3181905601
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Dr. Brent, in his editorial “The Reconstruction of Venus: Following Our Legacy” (Plast Reconstr Surg. 2008;121:2170–2171), reflects on the logo of our Journal and our national society. The logo was designed in the mid-1940s, with the hand to reflect our surgical skill, the Venus de Milo to represent art, and the Aesculapian staff to show us as healers. Although a symbol of beauty, the famous statue is armless; her arms were torn off as she was hurriedly dragged across the rocky terrain of the Aegean island of Milos to a ship bound for France. Dr. Brent recommends that we add a second image of the Venus with her arms restored, reflecting the progress and sophistication of our specialty.

Plastic surgery originated in reconstructive surgery. Recently, our specialty's emotional commitment to beauty, our fear of competition, and our apprehension about reduced incomes may have led us to forget our past. As a society, we joined the media frenzy by collaborating with Hollywood television. We have promoted cutting-edge, yet relatively untested, products. We have felt the need to eliminate “reconstructive” from our name, worrying that it would “confuse” our patients?

Updating our logo is only a symbol, but was the reconstructive arm of plastic surgery torn off in a hurried attempt to sail the ship of cosmetic surgery into the “City of Angels” instead of the City of Lights? Are we better off? Would a renewed acknowledgment of our roots repair us? Would a few reconstructive cases help fill the void in this economic recession? Would the distinguishing character of our specialty be restored? Would the public appreciate us more?

Maybe such a change would be only a symbol, nothing more than a Band-Aid. But it might begin the process of healing our wounds and restoring the honor of our past and of our commitment to each other and to society. It is only such a commitment that will ensure our place as a “special” specialty, rather than just another purveyor of goods or the competition down the street.

Frederick J. Menick, M.D.

Department of Plastic Surgery

University of Arizona

1102 North Eldorado Place

Tucson, Ariz. 85715;

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