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UCLA Medical Center

The UCLA Division of Plastic Surgery started as a busy plastic surgery service at Wadsworth Veterans Hospital shortly after World War II. Several well known consultants attended the service: Arthur E. Smith, MD, Michael Gurdin, MD, John Pangman, MD and George Webster, MD. In 1956, when the surgical service was organized at UCLA, Franklin Ashley, MD was appointed as the first Chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery. The first residents completed their training in 1957.

In 2004, the division has eight full-time faculty, forty-six clinical faculty, six residents, three post-graduate fellows (craniofacial surgery, microsurgery and hand surgery), and three research fellows. A number of general surgery residents spend 1-3 years studying in one of two major research laboratories. We have an average of four foreign visiting scholars in both laboratory and clinical programs. The Division performs approximately 4,000 in operative cases each year between four hospitals (UCLA, Wadsworth VA, Harbor and Olive View County Hospital) involving every aspect of plastic surgery. A comprehensive speakers program is enhanced by regular, topic oriented workshops, anatomy dissections, a microsurgery lab and research meetings.

The most important asset of the division is its distinguished faculty. Few programs have such a collection of internationally recognized senior faculty in so many areas: aesthetic (Drs. Miller, Rudkin, Festekjian, Bradley and Da Lio), craniofacial (Drs. Kawamoto and Bradley), head and neck (Drs. Jones and Benhaim), cancer reconstruction, breast, hand and microsurgery (Drs. Lipa, Benhaim, Crisera Da Lio, and Festekjian). Several members of the clinical faculty are internationally known for their work in rhinoplasty, facial surgery and liposuction. Two faculty members have been on the American Board of Plastic Surgery, Timothy Miller, MD and Henry Kawamoto, Jr., MD. Dr. Miller served as the co-editor of the Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery between 1994 and 2000.

The Division of Plastic Surgery is also home to the state of the art UCLA Cosmetic Surgery Center. This center offers a variety of aesthetic facial, body and breast cosmetic procedures, which can be performed under general or local anesthesia with intravenous sedation. Facelift, eyelid, nose reshaping and breast surgery as well as liposuction and tummy tuck are regularly performed in the UCLA Outpatient Surgery Center, which offers not only the finest in anesthesia and nursing care, but the unique option of an overnight stay following surgery.

Skin care, chemical peels, Botox, Collagen and Restylane injections are offered in our beautifully furnished and newly remodeled suite.

The area of microvascular free flaps with a particular emphasis on breast surgery, now under the direction of Andrew Da Lio, MD, has expanded. More than 200 free flaps are performed each year with a 99.5% success rate, among the best results for free flap survival anywhere in the world. These procedures are performed in a large number of women utilizing abdominal tissue, buttock, lateral thigh and the back. In conjunction with the UCLA Breast Center, any woman requiring a mastectomy is offered immediate reconstruction. UCLA is the only facility in the western United States that offers a new and unique method of breast reconstruction that does not require the sacrifice of muscle tissue from the abdomen.

Our two research laboratories focus on the simulation of bone growth and healing. By combining unique bone-stimulating proteins with natural/synthetic vehicles, we are devising methods to avoid the use of surgical bone grafting - a very debilitating operation associated with sever pain and difficulty walking. In the search for the 'ideal mix' of proteins to use in a bone graft substitute, we have encountered proteins that suppress new bone growth. These proteins are commonly seen in high concentrations in patients with osteoporosis - a condition of bone loss. We are very encouraged that such findings will uncover significant understanding in both of these important areas.

Research in our tissue-engineering lab is focused on the investigation of adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells, which have demonstrated multi-lineage mesenchymal differentiation capacity, and on using these cells in bone and cartilage tissue engineering. Specific areas of investigation include:

  • Transfection of adipo-derived stem cells (ADSCs) with adenovirus carrying the gene for BMP-2. These cells are able to produce a bone morphology both in vitro and in vivo, and compare favorably to bone marrow-derived cells exposed to the same treatment.
  • Chondrogenesis studies, both in vivo and in vitro. Micromass and macromass techniques have been further characterized, including development of a new "ideal" culture media for inducing chondrogenesis.
  • Cloning studies have continued, with identification of multiple individual clones now able to differentiate down multiple mesenchymal lineages.
  • Expanded in vivo studies examining the osteogenic potential of these stem cells, both in cranial defect models and in femoral defect models.
  • Investigation of the long-term differentiation characteristics of ADSCs.
  • Examination of the ability of ADSCs to differentiate into neuronal cells.


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