Book Review: Operative Techniques in Plastic Surgery, Editor-in-Chief, Kevin C. Chung, MD, MS

by Jeremy M. Powers, MD
PGY-5 Resident
Integrated Plastic Surgery Residency
Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA

Operative Techniques in Plastic Surgery
Editor-in-Chief: Kevin C. Chung. Pp. 3468. Wolters Kluwer Publishing, Philadelphia, Pa., 2019. Price: $699.99

I was first exposed to the Operative Techniques series through my library’s access to online textbooks and the Operative Techniques in Hand Surgery book by Dr. Chung. That book quickly became essential to my preparation for hand cases with its detailed, step-by-step explanations of surgical procedures, complete with intra-operative and post-operative pictures. I remember thinking at the time, “I hope Dr. Chung does this for plastic surgery overall.” When I saw the plastic surgery version available for pre-order at the ASPS meeting in Chicago in September of 2018, I knew I had to get the book. After a few months’ delay, which I’m sure is routine for books of this magnitude, Operative Techniques in Plastic Surgery arrived at my door on May 8th

The book (or mighty tome, I should say) is a total of 3,468 pages and is divided into three volumes. Volume I covers facial aesthetics, craniofacial, and head and neck reconstruction. Volume II covers plastic surgery of the breast, trunk reconstruction and body contouring, and hand surgery, while Volume III cover lower limb reconstruction and pediatric plastic surgery. The chapters are organized by procedure and are quite comprehensive, at first glance fulfilling the objective laid out in the Preface: to become an “encyclopedic” reference for plastic surgery, as the “last bastion of a general surgeon.” 

Each chapter shares the same basic layout, with background/anatomy/pathophysiology, surgical management/pre-operative planning/positioning/approach/technique, and post-operative care/follow-up/complications. There is also a “pearls and pitfalls” section summarizing the key aspects of the operation. There are pictures with each key step of the operation along with detailed descriptions. The eBook version easily loaded on my iPhone and has already become a reference for quick review prior to cases. 

So far, I have used this book to prepare for several cases, including cubital tunnel release, upper blepharoplasty, facial fillers/Botox, breast reduction, and mastopexy-augmentation. The background sections are comprehensive and cover the key information, and while they could become redundant between sections, it seems they have been carefully curated not to repeat content. I found myself picking up “pearls” even in procedures which have become more routine, as well as understanding the specific steps and decision-making involved in working up a patient for surgery. I especially look forward to diving more into the pediatric and craniofacial sections, as I think a step-by-step technique resource has been a particular need in this area of plastic surgery. 

In summary, Operative Techniques in Plastic Surgery is a truly comprehensive resource. I anticipate this book will become commonplace to find on the bookshelves of resident and attending surgeons alike. While I was able to get the promotional price at the conference, $699.99 is still a reasonable cost for such a thorough and practical resource. I’m excited to have the print copy in my possession, but I’m hopeful that institutional libraries will pick up the book both in print available for check out and online for reference. 

Click here to purchase this book from the publisher.

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