Pioneering international surgical training charity launches at annual meeting of UK plastic surgeons

Media Release- 26 November 2014

Today (Wednesday 26 November) sees the launch of new charity the British Foundation for International Reconstructive Surgery and Training (BFIRST) at the annual scientific meeting for UK plastic surgeons, hosted by the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) in London. 

The charity, which trains local surgeons and their staff around the world in a broad range of reconstructive surgery techniques, is the first of its kind to develop a systematic, comprehensive curriculum in the speciality of hand surgery, with other subspecialities in plastic and reconstructive surgery to follow soon. The programme helps to improve outcomes for patients internationally using advanced reconstructive surgical skills, supported by a rigorous assessment protocol to monitor development. 

The launch is just one highlight of the three day event, which provides a platform for leading UK and international plastic surgeons to meet and share the latest successful pioneering innovations in plastic surgery that are having a direct transformative effect on people’s lives.

Among other expert presentations, BAPRAS Deputy President Nigel Mercer will chair a seminar on aesthetic surgery, including a panel discussion on training and regulation. Another seminar will explore the role and impact of reconstructive surgery in treating head and neck cancer, examining national outcomes for over 11,000 reconstructions. 

Other highlight sessions will include discussion about innovative practice in the areas of trauma, skin cancer, burns, nasal reconstruction and cleft lip and palate surgery. 

BAPRAS President and consultant plastic surgeon Graeme Perks said:
“BAPRAS is proud to play host to a diverse group of pioneering plastic surgeons from across the world who are sharing their expertise to advance this important specialism for the benefit of patients everywhere. From microsurgical reconstruction to facial palsy, these discussions are central to helping drive best practice and patient outcomes. 

“We are also honoured to support the vital work of BFIRST in equipping local surgeons across the globe with life-long skills to pass on to the next generation of doctors. It is only through this sustainable training and development that expertise and knowledge can be shared to help those requiring life-changing treatment, for many years to come.” 

The annual President’s Prize will be awarded to showcase and reward outstanding research that has been undertaken by BAPRAS surgeons. This year’s contenders include papers on facial nerve regeneration through grafts and a 3D morphometric tool for understanding craniofacial development and planning reconstruction in congenital mid-face deformities. 

Ahead of this, the Reconstructive Surgery Trials Network (RSTN) will present updates on current projects and new ideas for prospective multi-centre clinical trials, national practice surveys, and observational studies. 

BAPRAS member and consultant plastic surgeon Barbara Jemec, who is also Founding Chair of BFIRST, said:
“Reconstructive plastic surgery gives people their lives and livelihoods back; by treating a range of problems including burns, cleft lip and palate, skin, muscle or bone loss from trauma, people can walk, talk and use their hands again, provide for themselves and their families and be integrated in their local communities again.
“British plastic surgeons have a long successful history of training doctors abroad and the  long-term vision of BFIRST is to have every UK plastic surgical unit involved and twinned with a unit in a resource poor country, forging a mutually rewarding relationship to the benefit of all patients, everywhere.”

BFIRST, which is partly funded by BAPRAS, currently works in Cambodia training three local plastic surgeons to build plastic surgery capacity in the country. Surgeons from all over the resource poor world are also offered fellowships in their chosen field within reconstructive surgery to gain valuable knowledge which they can take home and develop locally.  

The charity is also building reconstructive surgery training programmes in Myanmar and Bangladesh and collaborates with the international children’s medical charity Operation Smile to provide training in India in cleft lip and palate surgery for surgeons from all over the developing world.


BAPRAS, the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, is the voice of plastic surgery in the UK. It aims to increase the understanding of the professional specialty and scope of plastic surgery, promoting innovation in teaching, learning and research.

Founded in 1946 (originally as the British Association of Plastic Surgeons), today BAPRAS has over 800 members and is the professional representative body for reconstructive and aesthetic plastic surgeons providing services to patients on the NHS and privately in the UK. Members of the public can find a member plastic surgeon in their area by logging on to Anyone can check the GMC to find out if a surgeon is on the plastic surgery specialist register;

BFIRST is a UK registered charity which trains surgeons working in the poorest countries in the world to enable them to undertake reconstructive Plastic Surgery, releasing children and adults from the state of poverty and destitution associated with disability and deformity. For more information visit: