Domestic Violence : Healing the Wounds

Plastic Surgeons “Give Back” to Their Communities

NEW YORK, NY (January 28, 2004) – One out of every four women in the United States will experience violence by an intimate partner sometime during her lifetime, according to findings from a National Violence Against Women survey (National Institute of Justice, 1999). Over 200,000 visits to hospital emergency rooms every year result from acts of domestic violence, says a Special Report of the Bureau of Justice Statistics (1997). These acts of violence leave their victims scarred both mentally and physically.

In 2001, plastic surgeon Douglas Monasebian, MD, founded New York Heals to provide free treatment to victims of domestic violence. Through New York Heals, a team of surgeons and other medical specialists works together with social workers and area hospitals to offer free access to procedures such as scar revision, rhinoplasty, skin resurfacing and, when necessary, emergency facial procedures.

“I started New York Heals as a way to use my training and ability as an aesthetic plastic surgeon to help victims of domestic violence achieve both physical and emotional healing,” says Dr. Monasebian, who is a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), the nation’s leading organization of board-certified plastic surgeons specializing in cosmetic plastic surgery. “I can’t erase the past, but I can help people face the future with greater self-confidence.” New York Heals, to date, has provided care to some 30 people who otherwise would have been unable to afford much-needed surgical improvements to their appearance.

Many victims of domestic violence receive initial medical treatment that does not address the long-term cosmetic results of their injuries. Those who cannot afford corrective plastic surgery must often resign themselves to living with facial or bodily disfigurements. “These scars or deformities serve as a constant reminder of the pain and humiliation they have suffered,” says Dr. Monasebian. “It can be very difficult for them to face the world.”

Dr. Monasebian says that additional plastic surgery often makes the difference between a damaged, disharmonious appearance and one that is aesthetically pleasing. “As aesthetic plastic surgeons, we take a patient who may be functionally healed but still bears visible signs of abuse, and we use our advanced techniques to help restore beauty. Even when the injuries are so severe that we can’t succeed 100 percent, the improvements almost always make a huge difference in the individual’s self-esteem.”

Dr. Monasebian has been awarded the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery’s Certificate of Special Recognition for Community Service and Volunteerism . ASAPS initiated this certificate program, in 2002, to recognize and encourage ASAPS members’ contributions to their communities. Since the program’s inception, 88 ASAPS surgeons have received the certificate.

“Aesthetic plastic surgeons give back to their communities in many ways,” says ASAPS President Robert Bernard, MD, of White Plains, NY. “What Dr. Monasabian is doing is truly inspiring. That kind of service requires a deep commitment – involvement in people’s lives and helping them overcome severe problems. “

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