David B. Reath, MD
Knoxville, TN (865) 450-9253
HKB Knoxville Staff

What Plastic Surgeons Shouldn’t Do On School Career Days

Plastic surgeon career dayThere was a  recent story in the news about parents upset because of what an unnamed plastic surgeon did at career day for 4th and 5th graders. And before you start saying, “Oh no, he didn’t,” let me just tell you that: yes, he did. He took in a silicone breast implant and let the kids feel it (something that was referred to in the post as “copping a feel”).  The question of whether or not this was a smart or dumb thing to do is very easily answered: dumb, very dumb.

But not only were the parents concerned about this transgression of good sense (well, at least he didn’t bring in a patient — jk, jk), but they were concerned about children being exposed to plastic surgery. This gets me to thinking about what is appropriate for a plastic surgeon to do on career day. The field of plastic surgery is quite broad, and many areas of it are very easily spoken of to a wide range of children. In fact, I am sure these parents would want their child to be exposed to a plastic surgeon if that child ended up in the Emergency Department with a dog bite to the face.

How I’ve Done Career Days
In the past I have gone to my kids’ schools to talk about what I do. For kindergarten we did a mock surgery. All the kids got to put on surgical masks and hats, and we successfully removed the appendix of a Hulk Hogan Wrestling Buddy doll. I am happy to report that the operation was successful, and we were not required to preauthorize this with his insurance.

What was even more fun, was to help my daughter to make a presentation to her high school biology class on a medical procedure. We decided that it would be cool for her to explain how a cleft lip repair was done.  (This operation is one of the true foundations of plastic surgery.)  So, I explained to her how the cleft lip was dissected and repair to give a normal looking lip.  It was great to help her understand how this worked, and the presentation to the class was excellent. Nothing wrong with getting an “A” when talking about the family business.

When It’s Your Turn
So what do you talk about at career day?  In my opinion, this just isn’t too hard to figure out.  Something that represents what you do, that is interesting to the class, and is age appropriate. When it comes to elementary school, this is probably somewhere between Hulk’s appendectomy, and the cleft lip demonstration.  When it comes to evaluating the visceo-elastic properties of cohesive silicone gel, I’d vote for a college or graduate school course in polymers, but hey, that’s just my opinion.

Plastic surgery is definitely a good, interesting, and vast field of medicine. I’m sure the guy who brought in the implants to the 4th and 6th graders is probably now realizing that this was not all that great an idea. I wonder whether it was his son’s or his daughter’s class? Not that it really makes a difference.

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