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The Reconstruction of Venus: Following Our Legacy

Levin, L Scott M.D.

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Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: January 2009 - Volume 123 - Issue 1 - p 430
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3181905625
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It is with great enthusiasm that I support a modification of the emblem of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons as described by Dr. Burt Brent in his June 2008 editorial (Plast Reconstr Surg. 2008;122:2170–2171). He is a great contributor to the artistry of reconstructive surgery, and his suggestion that our specialty adapt a new emblem is particularly timely.

In July of 2008, a new society was formed by plastic surgeons that embraces the science, ethics, and technical aspects of composite tissue allotransplantation, which is clearly the future of reconstructive plastic surgery. A decade ago, when the first hand transplant was performed, there was controversy surrounding this new surgery, and some people questioned whether or not this type of surgery should go forward.

In the face of an outstanding conference, which included basic scientists, immunologists, transplant surgeons, ethicists, and those who have performed composite tissue allotransplantation, any suggestion that this technology would not be here to stay was dispelled. More importantly, it will evolve as the mainstay of many aspects of reconstructive surgery in the future, assuming further progress is made in immunosuppression and immunomodulation.

Coincidentally, Dr. Brent attended this conference. His development and quest for reconstruction of the perfect human ear with conventional reconstructive techniques are known to all of us. He admitted that perhaps someday his four stages of ear reconstruction would be obsolete, in the face of composite tissue allotransplantation. Now, it is only fitting that we complete the reconstructive needs of Venus de Milo, similar to the first hand transplant that was performed almost a decade ago by Jean-Michel Dubernard.

In 1999, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons dropped “Reconstructive” from its name. I find it particularly appropriate that almost a decade later the American Reconstructive Transplantation Society was formed, embracing the word “reconstructive.” Furthermore, Venus de Milo, the symbol of beauty, resides in the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, the same country where the first hand and face transplants were performed. Indeed, the logo illustrated by Dr. Brent is long overdue. The power of restoring completeness in body image, as well as function, clearly replacing “like with like,” needs to be reflected in who we still are: reconstructive plastic surgeons–-plastic surgeons who base their art on the foundation of reconstructive surgery.

L. Scott Levin, M.D.

Division of Plastic, Reconstructive, Maxillofacial, and Oral Surgery

P.O. Box 3945, Duke University Medical Center

Durham, N.C. 27710

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