A recent report of the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery has continued to emphasize the importance of surgery in global health. Plastic surgeons have been involved in humanitarian care of children in developing countries for many years. The ability to repair children with cleft lip and palate in resource-poor settings has made this desirable for many plastic surgeons. A number of philanthropic plastic surgery organizations arose to deal with the problem in a more structured way. Dr. Donald Laub at Stanford established Interplast (now ReSurg) in 1969. Dr. Bill and Kathy Magee established Operation Smile in 1982, and many others have followed. The unifying theme of these organizations has been the desire to provide safe and effective surgical care to children who would otherwise be forced to live out their lives with deformity. Most care has been for children with clefts, but efforts have expanded to include hand surgery and burn reconstruction. The initial effort was provided through surgical missions. A paradigm shift has occurred as sustainability and local capacity have become paramount. Education and training of local colleagues and assistance in surgical safety infrastructure are expanding the reach of plastic surgical care around the globe. The inauguration of in-country permanent surgical centers allows high-volume outcomes research, as well as unique educational collaboration between plastic surgeons of both the developed and developing world.
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