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Reconstructive surgery project helps soldiers recover

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TWC News: Reconstructive surgery project helps soldiers recover
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Reconstructive surgery can repair permanent bodily damages due to various events or injuries, including birth defects, mastectomies in women, traumatic injuries, diseases and tumors.

The American Society for Plastic Surgeons reports over 1 million reconstructive surgeries each year.

Many times, insurance will cover reconstructive surgeries. Experts recommend that patients ask their surgeon to take pictures and document and detail the case to send to the insurance company.

Breast Reconstruction: Women who have had mastectomies may utilize breast reconstruction surgery to recreate breast size, structure and composition.

Hand or Feet Surgery: These surgeries may be necessary for a variety of reasons including cancerous or noncancerous tumors, webbed toes or fingers, extra fingers or toes and carpal tunnel syndrome. Surgeries can repair strength, function and flexibility of the fingers.

Wound Care: Severe burns or cuts may require skin grafts or another reconstructive method. Surgeries targeted at scars focus on minimizing scars to make the target area more consistent in structure and complexion with the surrounding skin, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Surgery After Skin Cancer: Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, and 80 percent of skin cancer cases occur on the face, head or neck, according to The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Two common surgeries are low risk. Most skin cancers can be removed surgically, through a simple excision, which may leave a thin scar that's hard to notice.

Facial Surgeries: Cleft lips, breathing problems, chronic infections or even snoring may be fixed with a facial surgery. A cleft lip, which is the separation in the upper lip, occurs in about one out of every 800 babies. It happens when the lip and roof of the mouth do not grow as one component together. Cleft lip surgeries close the separation.

Many servicemen and servicewomen return from war with disfiguring injuries. Now, there's a unique program that's helping them get the care they need free of charge.

Operation Mend is a program that was launched with the help of philanthropist Ronald A. Katz. It is a unique partnership between Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio and the VA-Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. Operation Mend is funded through public and private donations.

For more information, visit OperationMend.UCLA.edu.

The Katz Family Foundation aims to fund all uncovered costs associated with the project, including lodging for patients and family members. So far, the UCLA team has helped about 30 soldiers, some who've needed 20 surgeries.

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