Plastic Surgery for Good: How Plastic Surgery Is Helping to Heal Victims of Violence

Depending on who you ask, the words “plastic surgery” can mean a lot of different things. For some, the term evokes images of celebrities and Instagram superstars, while to others it can mean a much-needed boost of self-confidence that comes from finally looking as good on the outside as you feel on the inside. But now, plastic surgery is showing its altruistic side, thanks to a noble new cause some surgeons are championing: reconstructive surgery for victims of terrorist attacks and other violence.

The program is called Face Forward, and it works to repair the physical effects left by terrorism, domestic violence, human trafficking, random violence and acid attacks. Dr. Bruce Chau of Berkley, Michigan, is not affiliated with the California-based Face Forward program, but the program is a cause he feels is worthy of supporting.

“People may wonder why programs like Face Forward are important,” he said. “But what they don’t realize is that often victims of this type of violence become permanently disfigured and cannot afford to undergo aesthetic procedures that would help them look and feel better following an attack.”

Face Forward plans to soon operate on Roy Larner, a man who was stabbed multiple times attempting to stop a terrorist attack at a restaurant in London. Though eight people died in the attack and Larner and 48 others were injured, Larner’s actions likely saved many lives that day. Unfortunately, while his injuries healed, he was left with significant scarring, especially around his ear, which was almost completely severed. The scar serves as an unsightly reminder of the attack to Larner, who despite his heroics would prefer to not have to answer questions about it from well-meaning strangers.

“Unfortunately, most insurance plans will still not cover plastic surgery procedures for this type of injury,” Chau said. “Most if not all will now cover breast augmentation for breast cancer patients, but so far most victims of violence are left footing their own bills for reconstructive surgery.”

That’s where programs like Face Forward step in, covering the reconstructive procedure free of charge, so victims of these heinous crimes can heal physically and emotionally, without constantly being reminded of their attack when they look in the mirror.

“Hopefully in the future, insurance plans will broaden the scope of reasons they will cover a procedure, but for now programs like Face Forward are helping these individuals lead as normal a life as they can following such extraordinary acts of violence,” Chau said.