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The Arts and Medicine
November 22/29, 2016

The Art of Plastic Surgery

Author Affiliations
  • 1Oregon Health & Science University, Portland
JAMA. 2016;316(20):2072-2073. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.17592

Neuroscience assigns mental tasks to specific areas of the brain. Speech, language, math computation, time, and logic reside in the left hemisphere of the brain in right-handed individuals. The right side of the brain is the neural home for intuition, the recognition of faces, a sense of direction, and the appreciation of beauty of form.

I was an artist before I became a physician and languished in the right side of my brain, unconscious of the passage of time as I worked. I took this tendency with me when I trained in facial plastic surgery, thinking all other surgeons might feel the same. It took a few years to realize most did not. Plastic surgery is surgery of form, and synthesis of form is purely right-brained. Acceptance to medical school and training programs is based on left-brain skills, so when residents in training first attempt plastic surgery, many have an obvious lack of natural ability because they have never been required or trained to demonstrate proficiency in judging form.

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