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Wright-Patterson Medical Center Reaches A Milestone in Reconstructive Surgery

Maj. (Dr.) Nickolay Markov and Lt. Col. (Dr.) Justin Fox perform 
a microsurgical procedure using a surgical microscope at Wright-Patterson Medical Center. (U.S. Air Force Photo / Kristen Van Wert)

Maj. (Dr.) Nickolay Markov and Lt. Col. (Dr.) Justin Fox perform a microsurgical procedure using a surgical microscope at Wright-Patterson Medical Center. (U.S. Air Force Photo / Kristen Van Wert)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio - The plastic and reconstructive surgery team at Wright-Patterson Medical Center (WPMC) has now performed its 50th microsurgical, free flap surgery – a highly specialized surgical procedure necessitating the use of a surgical microscope.  This significant milestone was achieved as the team provided reconstructive surgery for a breast cancer survivor. 

The advanced reconstruction program, overseen by Maj. (Dr.) Nickolay Markov, WPMC’s Chief of Microsurgery, and Lt. Col. (Dr.) Justin Fox, Surgery Flight Commander, has grown in both scope and volume since 2018.  The program has helped patients with significant wounds of the legs avoid amputation and cancer survivors minimize deformity resulting from cancer treatment.

Through this program, breast cancer patients have also been given more reconstructive options beyond just implants, including using their own tissues for reconstruction.  “Essentially with this surgery, we do a transplant utilizing a patient’s own tissues, without impacting a patient’s abdominal strength, and use that tissue to mold a new, natural appearing breast,” according to Dr. Markov. “This is commonly referred to as a deep inferior epigastric perforators, or DIEP, flap.”

Wright Patterson Medical Center’s advanced reconstruction program not only helps provide specialty care to beneficiaries, it serves to maintain critical wartime readiness skills required to restore form and function to severely injured wounded warriors. It is one of the few military treatment facilities across all services with such a program.

“The plastic surgeons are only part of what it took to reach this milestone. It took a team of 88th Medical Group professionals, from the nurses and technicians in the operating room to the tremendous critical care nursing support in the intensive care unit,” shared Dr. Markov. “We cannot thank them enough.”