Surgery SIP at NUH: Plastic Surgery

Apologies for the lack of updates. It’s been somewhat busy lately on all fronts.

Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery SIP is a different experience from Upper GI.

Firstly, few people under the care of plastics are in danger of dying from conditions related to plastic surgery, except for burn victims, of whom we’ve seen none or only the mild cases.

Secondly, there are few people under the direct care of plastic and reconstructive surgery. These cases include lacerations (especially in children), cleft lip and palate repair, lymphedema for lymphovenous anastomosis, delayed wound flaps and isolated facial trauma.

Of course, there are cases of aesthetic surgery: few breast augmentations, liposuctions, abdominoplasties, rhinoplasties (most commonly done post-trauma), but these are rarely seen by the SIP students.

Most of the morning rounds are spent participating in the care of “Blue letters“, patients under the care of other teams, who have issues that are best handled by the plastics team: skin flaps, breast reconstruction, facial trauma as part of trauma. The Breast & Trauma team is one that the plastics team works closely with, another being Neurosurgery (the face and the brain are closely related, yes?).

In terms of the work itself, it isn’t much. With few patients under direct care, changes are minimal, discharge summaries easily completed on time. This, to J., is fantastic. Medical students in NUS, unless they pick an elective in Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, are not exposed to the discipline at all. J. is taking these two weeks as a form of small elective. After morning changes (and breakfast), he goes to the general clinic (Clinic C), the Aesthetic and Plastic Surgery Centre (APSC), the Day Surgery Operating Theatre (DSOT) or the major operating theatre (OT) to watch and learn.

Is it very relevant for MBBS? Probably not. Is it interesting? Yes. Might it come in handy in the future? Possibly. Why not?

Possibly because of the short team list, the plastic surgery team tends to be both laid back and meticulous. Almost every morning after rounds, the team drops by Kopitiam for a round of drinks (milo, green tea, the like) before heading to clinics. OT, etc. At the same time, the dressing done in the morning, the stitching done in the theatres are done with immense care and patience.

It’s a good experience, no doubt. Remember, folks, the plastics commandment of skin sutures: “Thou shalt not commit tension.”

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