Back in the First and Second World Wars, the advancement of medical care and antibiotics coincided with the increased use of advanced weaponry. The result? While many wounded soldiers were surviving, they often experienced significant and disfiguring injuries.

The need to treat these injuries gave rise to the field of plastic surgery – "plastic" from the Greek word "plastikos," meaning to shape or mould, explains Dr. Kevin Calder, a plastic surgeon who joined the team at Langley Memorial Hospital in December.

As a medical student, the specialized field wasn't even on his radar until a training rotation that included a hand surgery and a breast reduction surgery.

Today, his practice is among the most diverse at the hospital, ranging from reconstruction following a traumatic facial injury to assisting his fellow surgeons in the case of tricky wound or surgical closings.

"Plastic surgery really is whole body surgery – we operate from the head to the toe," says the UBC medical school graduate, originally from Alberta. After spending time teaching in Illinois, Dr. Calder was keen to return to the West Coast.

He enjoys the diversity of his work, but also the ability to help such a wide range of patients.

In addition to reconstruction surgery – after an accident or mastectomy, for example – Dr. Calder's work also includes skin cancer removal, hand surgeries, breast reductions and tricky wound closures. He'll assist with skin grafts and moving muscles from one area to another, and undertakes a lot of carpal tunnel and nerve work – essentially, anything that involves soft tissue, skin and bone work in the delicate areas of the face and hands.

Specialized pediatrics training also allows Dr. Calder to volunteer internationally, providing life-changing repairs of children's cleft lips and palates. To date, he's undertaken thousands of surgeries in more than 30 countries!

Bringing treatment home to Langley

The Langley community has been underserved in the plastic surgery field, with no full service plastic surgeon on staff for about a decade. That meant that patients who arrived at the emergency department with face or hand injuries or needing skin cancer surgeries were often sent to Surrey or Burnaby to receive treatment.

Dr. Calder’s program today supports the ER teams and other surgeons, and helps patients find care in their own community – currently about 200 patients each month.

In addition to operating room surgeries, "we also do a lot of minor surgeries in the hospital's Ambulatory Care Department," Dr. Calder notes.

Adding plastic surgery to the hospital is just one way Langley Memorial is working to support patient care close to home. 

Helping in those efforts is the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation, which – with community support– has helped fund the recently expanded ER, new MRI suite and the annual equipment needs of every medical department. 

To support Langley Memorial Hospital, please consider a donation today.

As first seen on Langley Advance Times