WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — Cosmetic enhancements are usually the first thing that comes to mind when people think of plastic surgery but the 88th Medical Group plastic surgery clinic of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base offers much more than just cosmetic procedures.
The 88th Medical Group plastic surgery clinic has two plastic surgeons and is one of five plastic surgery clinics in the Air Force providing services to active duty, retired and dependents.
Although there are cosmetic procedures offered for a fee at the clinic, most patients are seen for reconstructive procedures as a result of cancers, injuries and birth defects.
Maj. Justin Fox, 88th Medical Group plastic surgeon, said the primary reconstructive services provided to the patients at Wright-Patterson AFB are for breast cancer patients who have undergone a mastectomy.
“There is a misconception of what plastic surgeons do because of popular media and the fascination with appearance in American society so there often is the question of why we need plastic surgeons in the Air Force,” Fox said. “Our primary mission is focusing on reconstruction so we are much more than cosmetic surgery.”
When working with breast cancer patients who are initially diagnosed, Fox said a team of doctors from general surgery, oncology, radiology and plastic surgery, work together to create the best action plan for the patient who opts for a mastectomy or lumpectomy.
Unlike in the past when only radical mastectomies were conducted leaving an open wound and unsightly scars, Fox wants to ensure that patients know they have options to choose from whether it be implants, using own tissue or opting for no reconstruction.
“I try to talk to every patient with breast cancer whether they have a mastectomy or not,” said Fox. “Even if they have the tumor removed [lumpectomy], this can cause contour irregularities that I can help improve.”
Fox also recommends if someone is considering a cosmetic procedure, whether on or off base, to make an appointment to gain more information about the procedure they are interested in and what to look for as they search for a surgeon. If they choose to go to a civilian surgeon, he can also give plastic surgeon recommendations but does stress that if the procedure is off base, military treatment facilities may not cover subsequent care after the procedure.
“I am here to help them make the decision that is right for them,” Fox said.
To receive care at the 88th Wright Patterson Medical Group plastic surgery clinic, patients must have a referral submitted by their primary care provider. For additional information on plastic surgery, go to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons at: www.plasticsurgery.org/.