Plastic surgeons around the U.S. are employing new techniques and advanced technologies to help soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan—regrowing muscles, bones, and skin in labs to heal their injuries in ways never before possible. Years back, the federal government created the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM)—a network of leading hospitals and universities—and gave them $300 million in grants to develop stem-cell science and advanced plastic surgery techniques. Now, many of those projects are coming to fruition.
In the past, prosthesis was the best answer for those soldiers who were seriously injured in bomb blasts; today, many more options are available. Doctors are finding ways to grow viable parts (like ears, for example) in labs, and are increasingly performing major plastic surgery procedures like face transplants to restore soldiers’ appearances. Through such advances, these doctors are able to offer veterans, who might otherwise have to live with being disfigured or handicapped, a second chance at a normal life.
I’m proud to be part of a field that is doing so much to help America’s armed forces. For more information about some of the incredible innovations that are being made to help heal our wounded soldiers, check out this in-depth article.