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Friday, December 16, 2005

CHICAGO, Sep 25, 2005 (U.S. Newswire via COMTEX) -- When most people think of plastic surgeons, they think of facelifts, liposuction and tummy tucks. But ask a soldier injured in Iraq and he or she will tell a different story. Plastic surgeons play a pivotal role in treating soldiers injured in Iraq, according to a panel held today at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) Plastic Surgery 2005 conference in Chicago.

"As plastic surgeons, we use our general surgery training to help treat initial trauma in the field to save the patient's life or limb. From there, they are transferred to Germany to help them stabilize, clear the infection and allow the wound to heal a bit," said ASPS Member Surgeon and Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Andrew Friedman, MD. "Back in the United States, however, we are using our plastic surgery training to reconstruct soldiers' injuries, close the wounds and help them feel whole again." LTC Friedman has commanded a forward deployed surgical team and served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Plastic surgeons work alongside other surgeons and physicians in combat support hospitals to address the immediate needs of the injured. Because of the severity of many war wounds, plastic surgeons do not perform in the field. Instead, they treat the wound first to ensure it is free from infection and then fly the soldier home to receive additional medical and reconstructive treatment.

Homemade road side bombs and high velocity guns pose the biggest threats to soldiers in Iraq, said LTC Friedman. The most common injuries are wounds in the lower and upper extremities as well as the face. Although soldiers wear body armor with plates built in, the arms, face and legs remain exposed. Helmets protect the head but leave the face open to injury.

"Convoys are the scariest and most high-risk activity a soldier can participate in. You never know when there is going to be a bomb alongside you or even under your vehicle," said LTC Friedman. "Also, the guns used in combat in Iraq don't create the kind of wounds a street gun might in America. These guns fire at a much higher velocity, creating a lot more damage."

"Even though I am trained in , I consistently used my medical and general surgical training in the field every day I was stationed in Iraq. I was proud to serve the troops by treating their injuries and ensuring they made it home," said LTC Friedman. "Now that I'm back in the United States, I'm proud to continue treating those who served in Iraq by reconstructing their wounds and helping them to heal both physically and emotionally."

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons is the largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world. With more than 5,800 Member Surgeons, the society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises 94 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.


Note: The panel "The Iraq Experience: The Plastic Surgery Contribution to Modern War Injuries," is being held Sunday, Sept. 25, 1:15 to 2:15 p.m., McCormick Place Lakeside Center, Chicago.

Media Briefing -- Iraq Experience: Plastic Surgeons Repairing Battle Wounds. Join us to meet three injured U.S. soldiers and their plastic surgeons. The soldiers will tell about their experiences in Iraq, how they were injured and the recovery process. Learn about the challenges plastic surgeons face in repairing combat wounds for soldiers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. Monday, Sept. 26, 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon., McCormick Place Lakeside Center, Room E254.

Reporters can register to attend Plastic Surgery 2005 and arrange interviews with presenters by logging on to Annual-Meeting-Media-Information.cfm or by contacting ASPS Public Relations at 847)-228-9900 or in Chicago, Sept. 25-28 at 312-949-3250.

LaSandra Cooper or Brian Hugins,
847-228-9900 or --
both of the American Society of Plastic Surgeon

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