Standing in front of the mirror, Priyanka Chauhan does not feel dejected anymore. Born with a craniofacial defect, she had spent most of the life inside her house, avoiding uncomfortable gaze of people. But treatment at the Plastic Surgery Department of PGI has given her a new face, transforming her into a confident, outgoing and smart young woman.
Hailing from a small town near Shimla, Priyanka, 29, was born with a deformity where part of her skull had grown abnormally, her eyes were protruding, the forehead was slanted and the cheek bones were sunk in.
“I had a very tough time because of my looks. People would turn around and look at me as if I was from some other planet. I used to feel very awkward,” said Priyanka. However, treatment at PGI changed her life.
“When the girl approached me, her skull and facial bones were in a bizarre shape. I consulted with a neurosurgeon, and we planned a craniofacial surgery. First, we got the skull in normal shape. After the success of the first operation, the girl requested for the facial surgery too. Two more surgeries were done and the improvement can be seen,” said Dr Ramesh Sharma, head of the Plastic Surgery Department at PGI.
Besides carrying out reconstructive surgeries in burn, trauma and cancer cases, which is its main work, the Plastic Surgery Department also carries out complex cosmetic surgeries which are not done anywhere else in the region.
Before coming to PGI, Priyanka had visited several hospitals, but none offered her a solution. In particular, the department is known for its expertise in craniofacial surgeries and, on average, one such surgery is done every week.
“Usually, people lose hope in such cases. I still remember a few years back, a six-week-old baby boy with similar defect was brought to me. Villagers stated that he was a curse and should be killed. However, the family had one last hope,” Dr Ramesh recalled.
“We operated and today the boy is living a healthy life. He is in ninth class and doing very well. Every year, his family visits me with the annual report card,” the doctor said with pride.
But such cosmetic procedures are only about 20 per cent of the surgeries carried out by the department. As many as 80 per cent are reconstructive surgeries on burn, trauma and cancer patients, said Dr Ramesh.
About 200 new cases are seen every week at the plastic surgery OPDs of PGI. The department also runs special clinics, like a hand clinic on Tuesday, a burn clinic on Thursday and a craniofacial clinic on Friday
“The general perception that plastic surgery is synonymous with cosmetic surgery is at best a half truth,” said Dr Ramesh.
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