President’s Letter

Phillip BLONDEEL, EURAPS President

Welcome to EURAPS, welcome to the EURAPS website. I feel very honored and privileged to serve you and our Association as President over the next two years.

Needless to say that the last two years have been very disturbing. Not only in the hospitals and clinics we have been working in, also in our personal lives and most definitely so for the scientific activities of our association. Live meetings have not been possible recently but we have become very ‘darwinistic’. We have organized very successful webinars on different scientific subjects over the past year. The online attendance was amazing, sometimes more than 1600 participants per session. It has been so popular that we will continue for the moment to regularly organize online webinars on top of our yearly meeting that will take place in 2022 in Naples, Italy. Stay tuned to our website and our Instagram account for more info.

A new year, a new board of officers and council members. I am very excited to start working with a number of new officers in our association. Some of them are already very familiar to you like Esther Vögelin, our treasurer and Fabio Santanelli, our former secretary-general and new president-elect. Adriaan Grobbelaar is our new Treasurer-elect. Most of all I am looking forward to working with our new secretary general Jan Vranckx. Both of us are Belgian academic surgeons from the two main university plastic surgery centers in Belgium. We have been colleagues and friends for a very long time and have a history of working together on numerous regulatory and scientific projects within Belgium. The fact that we both come from the same country might be felt as a threat but rest assured, both of us have a very international view on our profession. Both of us have a very long track records within EURAPS and we will do everything to serve the mission and purpose of our association, with special attention to the international relationships between members.

One of the first things we said to each other during our first meeting was: “We want to be more inclusive’. In the early days of our association it was the intention to create some kind of a select and exclusive club of European plastic surgeons. And respectfully so, the very first members of EURAPS have proven to be the gurus of modern Plastic Surgery. But times have changed. We still want to maintain that same high scientific level for our members and for the scientific activities that we deploy. But on the other hand we are convinced that there are many plastic surgeons in Europe who are active on a very high level in both daily clinic and research. And we, as an association want to hear about what you have to say. We want to know what you are doing to improve our profession. We all want to learn together from your experiences.

That is why we have updated and simplified the membership application procedure. Although we have become slightly less strict in the conditions to apply for membership, you will still need to meet a minimal scientific level before you can be accepted as a full active member. You will need to be of good standing and have made a number of scientific contributions to our profession. On the way to active membership, young promising plastic surgeons and even residents can apply for associate membership. Indeed, we are actively looking for the young guns of tomorrow and we wish to do everything we can to support these promising young men and women in their early career. Being member of EURAPS is regarded as a trade mark of quality and will support you in being a young and recognized professional. Please go to the Membership section of our website to find out more on how to become a member.

Another exciting event this year is the centennial anniversary of our sister association, the American Association of Plastic Surgeons (AAPS). The theme for their centennial meeting is “Honoring the past and anticipating the future”. Or, one could say, by standing on the shoulders of the founders of EURAPS and AAPS, we can reach much farther. We should never forget the contributions of the founders and early members of our association but at the same time we should be looking forward to embrace the new scientific world of tomorrow together with a new and bright generation of plastic surgeons. I wish to invite all members to take part in the centennial meeting of the AAPS in San Diego from April 9-12, 2022. More info on: https://aaps1921.org/newsletters/2021-Summer.cgi?#article2

One way to embrace the future is to be active in clinical and basic research in collaboration with the EURAPS Research Council (https://research-council.EURAPS.org). I am a strong believer and proponent of returning back to basic research to be able to jump further in the future. Personally, I have always been involved with clinical research around soft tissue transplantation. Together with many other colleagues we have revolutionized the field of reconstructive surgery with the development of perforated flaps. Nowadays, I am convinced that the future of our specialty lies in the field of tissue engineering. Tissue Engineering is so important because it is the only step forward in our profession that will allow us to offer higher quality reconstructions and aesthetic improvements while avoiding the most common side effects or disadvantages of present plastic surgery techniques. For me this meant that I had to go back to the most elementary books of basic science. At the same time an incredibly fascinating world opened up again. Plastic surgeons have always been on the brink of major breakthroughs in medicine. It is time to pick up our responsibility once again. And for those who are ambitious in basic science, know that many research groups will be eager to work with you because of one reason: we are the only specialty that can provide other labs with an unlimited amount of fresh human tissues and cells. You will be amazed what great collaborations will grow from this potential! Come and report your experiences at the annual ERC meeting.

Finally I would like to thank our past president, Prof. Milomir Ninkovic and our past secretary general Prof. Fabio Santanelli for all the work that they have put into our association. Certainly the last year has been very difficult and very often you had to work behind the curtains and in all discretion. For those who are not familiar with the functioning of the board of officers, I can tell you that it involves a ton of work. Very often during evenings and weekends different types of meetings and negotiations take place. Preparing for all the online and live meetings takes away a lot of your time. Doing the work that both of you have done is phenomenal and deserves respect from all of our members. Moreover I would like to thank the EURAPS Central Office represented by Diana Markic and Carlotta. It is a real pleasure working with you.

I am very much looking forward shaking your hand in Naples at our next live EURAPS meeting.

Phillip Blondeel