The British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons is the voice of plastic surgery in the UK, advancing education in all aspects of the specialty and promoting understanding of contemporary practice.
BAPRAS speaks for the majority of reconstructive and aesthetic plastic surgeons providing services to patients in the UK today.
Founded in 1946 in the aftermath of world war, as the British Association of Plastic Surgeons, the Association had the objectives of relieving sickness and protecting and preserving public health by the promotion and development of plastic surgery. The aim of the Association was to advance education in all aspects of plastic surgery.
Today, these objectives remain. However, techniques and expertise have progressed to the extent that plastic surgery needs to be understood in a modern, wider context.
While the majority of plastic surgery work is reconstructive, restoring form and function following illness or trauma, the world knows that some is aesthetic or ‘cosmetic’, where people elect for plastic surgery to change form or appearance. As innovative techniques develop, both reconstructive and aesthetic plastic surgery inform each other. The one improves the other, and vice versa, which can only be in the interest of all patients.
As the voice of plastic surgery, BAPRAS sees its role as increasing understanding of the scope of plastic surgery. We aim to raise the profile of plastic surgeons as an intrinsic element of care teams providing specialist care to patients with a wide range of conditions. Continuing our objective of advancing education, BAPRAS is always looking to promote innovation within the speciality of plastic surgery.
Research has been key to the rapid development of plastic surgery as a specialty. Plastic surgeons continue to contribute to scientific discovery and are quick to adopt the latest innovations.
Plastic surgery research encompasses laboratory science through to clinical trials of new drugs and techniques. The specialty is highly collaborative with the result that projects frequently cross multiple disciplines. Some of the research topics are outlined below; further information about research units in the UK can be found here.
Microsurgery has transformed the ability for plastic surgeons to reconstruct areas of the body that are absent either at birth, due to disease or as a result of injury. Microsurgery allows free tissue transfer (‘free flaps’) where tissue is removed from one area of the body and re-plumbed into another by reconnecting very small blood vessels.
Microsurgery is used on a daily basis by plastic surgeons. Technical advances in microsurgical equipment continue but a greater focus is on maximising patient safety and enhancing the reconstructive outcome. Advances in flap reconstruction include perforator flaps and new super-thin flaps.
Scar-free would healing would result in a surgical revolution. At the present time wound healing with scar formation is unavoidable. However, scientists have shown that during development in the womb various body structures grow together without leaving a scar. Our understanding of this process has lead to the development of new drugs that aim to achieve scar-free healing.
Injury or disease can result in the loss of tissue, such as skin, muscle, cartilage and bone. If this is severe, there may not be enough tissue left for reconstruction. In the future tissue engineering may allow the artificial growth of new tissues that can then be transplanted into the patient to overcome this problem.
One group set to benefit from this technology is patients with extensive burns with insufficient skin for harvesting skin grafts. The skin is a complex organ with many components such as sweat glands and hair follicles that are crucial for it to function properly. Tissue engineering has enabled plastic surgeons to reconstruct and replace skin components. However, current techniques are limited and further work is needed before this becomes a practical solution for wound repair.
Composite tissue allotranplantation
One groundbreaking and sensitive area of reconstructive surgery is that of human facial transplantation. Although the anatomical and microsurgical knowledge is available and full and partial facial transplants have now taken place outside the UK, there are still many issues concerning the psychological impact on the recipient and their family as well as the long-term risks of immunosuppression. Alongside this more widely publicised research, there is considerable work being undertaken to manipulate tolerance in donor specific ways, so that many other structures (limbs and major body parts) could also be successfully transplanted.
Where is plastic surgery research taking place?
Most of the plastic surgery units in the UK are engaged in some form of research. A list is available here. The work is published in National and International scientific journals and disseminated at conferences and through the development of clinical guidelines. The Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery is the International publication associated with BAPRAS.
Membership of BAPRAS offers a range of benefits and opportunities:
- There are many teaching and learning opportunities, both for those in training and those developing ongoing professional skills.
- All members wil be notified of and be able to attend Scientific and Clinical meetings
- All members can contribute to debates on the direction and development of our speciality, as well as take part in an ongoing exchange of information, knowledge and expertise.
- All members have their names and addresses published in the Association’s Members’ Handbook (for members only).
There are different categories and levels of BAPRAS membership to suit varying needs, and some benefits vary according to these membership categories:
- Selected membership levels will receive a free copy of the Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery
- All members receive reduced rates for Scientific Meetings and Courses, but the rates vary with membership level
- Certain membership levels are eligible for election to BAPRAS Council
- Certain membership levels will be able vote at General meetings.