The “superman doctor” and deformed faces

VietNamNet Bridge - International colleagues admired and called Dr. Vu Quang Vinh, Deputy Chairman of the Plastic Surgery Ward of the Le Huu Trac National Burn Institute "superman doctor".

Dr. Vinh performed a lot of successful surgeries to return the face and resurrect the life for many patients with advanced microsurgical techniques.

The bold experiment

microsurgical technology, Dr. Vu Quang Vinh, National Burn Institute, face recreation

Dr. Vinh (left) during a surgery using microsurgical techniques.

Eight years ago when he just returned Vietnam after 5 years of study in Japan, Dr. Vinh met the most special patient to date - female judge Nguyen Thi Kim Loan, whose face was completely destroyed by acid.

Memories of this patient are still etched in his mind. At that time, facing him was a woman whose face was disfigured by acid. Her two eyes were pulled up and could not close. Every time she moved her lips to speak, blood poured. One side of the face was skewed by acid.

Before going to the National Burn Institute, the patient went to Singapore to see Dr. IVol Lim, the most famous plastic surgeon of Singapore and the world.

Dr. IVol Lim said her face was a challenge for world medicine and the cost to perform the surgery was about $70,000. The amount was huge and the fragile hope brought Loan home.

Many years in the medical profession, witnessing the pain to the bone of patients with burns caused by chemicals, Dr. Vinh was determined to do something to change the unhappy life of the patients as Loan.

He decided to take reconstructive surgery for the judge's face who would experience the physical pain and emotional pain by the world most modern microsurgical techniques at that time, the techniques that he learned in 5 years of study in Japan.

Two days before the most special surgery with both doctors and the patient, Dr. Vinh invited Loan to his office and said frankly: "I have conducted many microsurgery surgeries but I’ve never performed a microsurgery on the face. This is a very difficult technique that even my teacher in Japan has never performed, so I’m really worried."

Dr. Vinh recalled: "Thankfully, Loan did not hesitate to accept the risk. She said if it is successful, she will have the opportunity to integrate with the community, otherwise that is a way for her to make a dedication to medicine."

He contacted Professor Hyakusoku Hiko (Japan), the creator of the method of ultra-thin skin self-reconstruction and told him the situation of the patient. Prof. Hiko Hyakusoku gave him some ideas and Vinh was determined to perform the risky operation.

Psychological pressure weighed on the surgical team as well as the entire doctors of the National Burn Institute because of the special nature of the surgery that day. The 14-hour operation ended well beyond everyone's expectations.

The surgery and its success attracted the attention of the medical community not only in Vietnam, but also the world because it was the first face skin regenerating operation in the world.

After that Loan went to Thailand for cosmetic surgery. Thai doctors asked her where she had the face skin reconstructing operation. When they knew that success came from Dr. Vu Quang Vinh of Vietnam, the Thai doctors said: "You met a superman doctor."

Dr. Vinh became the first doctor in Vietnam who used the microsurgical techniques, and super- microsurgery to reconstruct the face for many patients.

Over 1 year ago, he successfully recreated the face which was nearly leveled by acid for a victim. "The world plastic surgeons have concluded that no skin piece is enough to transplant the entire face, but through research we found that dorsal skin is the best to reconstruct the face," he said.

This is considered as an international-level step towards of Vietnamese doctors. Breaking the point of world medicine that no skin piece is sufficient to cover the entire face, Dr. Vinh made the first miracle recorded in the world medicine: re-creating the entire face from microsurgical techniques.

The man of passion and the will

Dr. Vinh said: "An article brought me to the success today. One day, my teacher, Professor Le The Trung, former director of the National Burn Institute showed me a newspaper article about the Japanese success in reproducing the chin and neck with an ultra-thin skin piece and he asked me why we could not perform this technique? The question of my teacher made me wonder. This technique is not too difficult and I decided to test it a few days after that."

Three tests, two successful, one failure made Dr. Vinh understand that this technique is not as easy as he had thought.

Not accepting failure, he sought to contact the author of this technique – Prof. Hiko Hyakusoku. Immediately, the Japanese professor expressed his wish to transferring this new technique for Vietnam doctors.

Vinh was both eager and worried because he was not sure he could learn this complex technique or not.

In early 2000, Prof. Hiko Hyakusoku went to Vietnam to transfer the microsurgery techniques for some doctors of the National Burn Institute. That was the first time Dr. Vinh knew how was microsurgical technique, which was too difficult and new to Vietnamese doctors at that time.

One year later, in 2001, Dr. Vinh passed an exam and received a scholarship from the Japanese Government. Prof. Hiko Hyakusoku took him to his Plastic Surgery Ward at the Nippon Medical University, a prestigious school in Japan.

Five years of hard study in Japan gave Dr. Vinh more knowledge and experience to return home to help people who face both the physical and mental pain.

The joy and pride of Dr. Vinh is also multiplied when his old school in Japan invited him as a visiting professor.

Dr. Vinh, the leading expert in microsurgery in Vietnam is studying the technique to graft skin of the dead to reconstruct new face for the living.

Doctors of the National Burn Institute have applied the microsurgical technology to recreate damaged and lost body parts, like breast, fingers, penis, etc. This success has been recognized by the Ministry of Health as one of 26 medical achievements of Vietnam during the renovation period.

Tien Phong

microsurgical technology, Dr. Vu Quang Vinh, National Burn Institute, face recreation