With so many stories about butt implants and Plastic Surgery Wives, it’s easy to confuse the shenanigans of “cosmetic surgeons” that aren’t actually trained plastic surgeons and miss out on the less glamorous reconstructive efforts by many board certified plastic surgeons around the country.
Take for example, Shashi Kusuma. Dr. Kusuma was a year ahead of me in my fellowship training at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. For the last several years, he has left his practice in Plantation, Florida and joined several other plastic surgeons that are members of the American Society of Indian Plastic Surgeons on a trek to India. They provided services throughout the country for cleft lip and palate patients but on a recent trip, he described a new direction their mission may take in the future. His interview is detailed in an article by Nicole Brochu in the SunSentinel newspaper of South Florida.
“There’s a lot of violence against women in India,” said Kusuma, 41, a native of southern India who was educated and trained in the United States and opened a practice in Plantation in 2010. “We have seen so many women — young women, 20, 30 years old — completely disfigured because their husbands or whomever took [their anger] out on them.”
After seeing these victims, Dr. Kusuma and his associates have set out on a fundraising mission to establish a burn center in India to help these patients.
“We were alarmed by how many burn victims we saw related to domestic violence situations,” According to the SunSentinel article, Kusuma, estimated that more than 100 of the about 400 patients who showed up asking for surgical repair were women with ghastly burns scarring their faces and bodies. “It’s a very sad scene.”
He looks to have a fundraiser in Plantation in the fall and I look forward to contributing to this cause. In the conclusion of the SunSentinel article Dr. Kusuma eloquently stated what I probably less eloquently said at the beginning of this article, that, “Plastic surgery in South Florida always gets a bad rap due to all the wild things that go on here…it is nice to have the public be aware that plastic surgery is a very serious specialty that actually serves a very huge purpose for a society.”
And luckily Dr. Kusuma isn’t alone. There are many plastic surgeons that have provided and continue to provide reconstructive procedures at no charge to under-served, less fortunate people around the globe. Dr. Donald Brown, the plastic surgeon I’m joining in San Francisco, is planning to set up a reconstructive clinic in (surprisingly) needy areas of the South Pacific. Many think of tropical paradises like Tahiti or Fiji when they think of the South Pacific and this may be why these areas don’t receive the attention they deserve when it comes to indigenous peoples that truly need access to reconstructive plastic surgery.
Regardless of whether these causes reach the national consciousness, it is important to highlight these mission trips as often as possible because these trips cost money. And even if you’re not a plastic surgeon, you can do your part by contributing here (Dr. Kusuma’s burn center effort), here or here!