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Division of
Plastic Surgery

The Division of Plastic Surgery has a long and renowned history at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center. In 1967, Clifford C. Snyder, M.D. was recruited from the University of Miami to begin a Division of Plastic Surgery at the School of Medicine. The Division grew from one person to three and developed an international reputation in mandibular distraction, microsurgery, hand reconstruction, treatment of venomous snake bites, bladder extrophy, and treatment of children with indeterminate sexual formation. Dr. Snyder became Chairman of prominent national and international organizations including the Plastic Surgery Research Council and the American Association of Plastic Surgeons. Following his retirement, Dr. Graham Lister became Chief of the Division in 1987.Dr. Lister had earned an international reputation as a hand surgeon and microsurgeon, perfecting techniques for reconstruction of both congenital hand deformities as well as adult traumatic deformities. In 1999, Dr. W. Bradford Rockwell assumed the Chief position and now heads a group of talented surgeons who provide plastic surgical and reconstructive surgical techniques to patients at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center, Primary Children's Medical Center, and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The University of Utah Health Sciences Center provides a central focus for the activities of the Division of Plastic Surgery. These activities include state-of-the-art patient care using the latest surgical and technological advances, education of both surgical residents and medical students, and research focused on advancing the field of plastic surgery.The mission of the Division of Plastic Surgery encompasses advancement in the four fields of patient care, education, research, and community service. As an integral component of the Department of Surgery, the Division of Plastic Surgery provides clinical care in a wide variety of clinical situations. Reconstructive surgery is one area where the plastic surgeons at the University of Utah specialize. Reconstructive surgery allows restoration of relatively normal anatomy and function. With surgical advances in other areas, previously untreatable conditions are now able to be resolved. Larger soft-tissue defects result from traumatic injuries and cancer excisions. Reconstructive techniques, using composite tissue flaps and microsurgical techniques have allowed reconstruction of these larger defects. Patients with previously untreatable tumors can now undergo successful surgical excision and very satisfactory reconstruction with autogenous or artificial materials. With the increased clinical activity at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, the need for reconstructive procedures will become more pressing.Expansion in this area will require increased activity by the plastic surgery faculty with expansion of the clinical programs. Research efforts need to be undertaken to expand reconstructive possibilities. These efforts need to be directed not only to projects which will allow improvement in soft-tissue coverage but also to projects which will improve nerve regeneration and muscle function, and ultimately improve the functional recovery of patients. Very satisfactory means now exist to provide tissue coverage to the majority of tissue defects. However, a suitable means to provide functional tissue does not currently exist. Tissue engineering is a relatively new but expanding field within plastic surgery research. Components of body parts are now being produced in the laboratory through tissue-culture techniques. While living body-part replacements do not exist, it is anticipated that production of functioning body elements may be possible in the not-to-distant future.Form and function are two important elements which allow an individual to have a happy and productive life. Variations in form are possible. The Division of Plastic Surgery at the University of Utah specializes in aesthetic surgery. Treatment for the aging face, body contouring, liposuction, and breast surgery are areas of special interest. By removing redundant skin on one's face, changing the proportions of one's breast, or by removing excessive subcutaneous fat, one's mental outlook can be expanded and improved. The benefit that one receives is immediate and long lasting. The clock can be turned back.
Sincerely yours,
W. Bradford Rockwell, M.D.
Chief Division of Plastic Surgery
Professor of Surgery
University of Utah Health Science Center