War is a brutal thing. Everything about it is designed to hurt, maim and kill the opponent enough that they are either eliminated or give up. War has never been about peace, about security, or about avoiding war. It’s violence in its most final form – killing the enemy. However, modern warfare isn’t as efficient as it used to be. For example, one battle in World War I managed to kill over 50,000 people in one day. Today’s battles do have horrible costs, but modern medicine, armor, first aid skills and faster transport as well as infection-blockers have done a tremendous job at helping people survive the effect of war. And that leaves a lot of maimed people as a result.
Plastic Surgery’s Role in War
The discipline of plastic surgery is about either changing how one looks for a better appearance or restoring an appearance that has been damaged. In terms of injuries from military fighting and related injuries, plastic surgery can go miles toward helping people recover to some extent, as well as putting war behind them too.
Military Plastic Surgery is Unfortunately Becoming Common
There was a time when soldiers died in the thousands from bullets or infections daily during battles. Dr. Joel Aronowitz notes that today’s military equipment and armor now keep them alive, but the result is severe disfiguration. The body is ill-equipped to fend off shrapnel and bullets. This is why American plastic surgeons are now taking the time to help Ukrainian soldiers recover from their wounds in Lviv.
Both training local doctors on how to apply plastic surgery and helping patients directly, these teams have now made three trips, many of the doctors themselves having been originally from Ukraine themselves.
Types of Surgeries Performed on Military Injuries
The plastic surgery provided isn’t about eyelid improvements, facelifts or sagging skin tightening. Instead, Joel Aronowitz MD clarifies that the work is more fundamental. One patient had facial tendons modified so that his healed face twisted by a blast injury will appear more even and symmetrical again. Other soldiers have facial reconstruction as well as reduction of scar tissue that can actually reduce mobility due to tightening versus being flexible tissue.
Helping Soldiers Find Home Again
Family remain one of the strongest bonds and resources for soldiers no longer able to fight on the front and left to recover afterward. Many relatives simply say, “He’s the same, he just looks a bit different.” That’s an understatement when half a soldier’s face has been reshaped by violence and then enough treatment to stop him from dying, but not enough to restore a normal appearance. The fact that plastic surgery is not part of such recovery now becomes vividly apparent in its absence. And the helping teams going to Ukraine to help local doctors learn are trying to make a difference one soldier at a time.