Of all of the fascinating and educational sessions available to attend at SCALE 2019, none promise to be more riveting than the session being offered that literally provides you an under-the-skin view of what living patients are experiencing with their treatments. This workshop is moderated by Tapan Patel, MD who will be joined by (Injectors) Brian Biesman, MD and Molly Katz, RN, CANS as well as (Dissectors) John Moore, MD and Jason Pozner, MD.
We acknowledge that for those of you who have not been through medical school the idea of attending a presentation with a cadaver head being dissected may be a little bit much to comprehend. However, there are very good reasons why this approach is better than not. Key among these are the ability to truly see what is happening with the skin, fat, muscles, and other tissues that make up the face, alongside a demonstration that shows the surface impact and look on living skin.
So how does this work, exactly, and what can you expect at SCALE 2019?
The Benefits of Using Cadavers in Medical Science Education
According to the National Institutes for Health (the federal government’s equivalent of the American Medical Association):
Procedure-oriented and replicable cadaver dissection-based anatomy training improves the knowledge, understanding, and confidence of aesthetic physicians, thereby theoretically enhancing patient safety. It can be concluded that facial anatomy training should remain a key component of postgraduate and continued medical education for aesthetic physicians, with cadaver dissection as its core teaching method.
Essentially, by publishing this, the government is endorsing the use of cadaver dissection as the best educational tool available to those studying medicine. This holds true for both aesthetic medicine and critical medicine. The reason being is that the human body reaction to any type of intervention can only best be demonstrated by the human body itself. Cadavers provide the opportunity to literally go inside the body and see what is happening.
Getting the Most Out of Cadaver Education
Cadavers do have limitations, of course. For instance, as the tissues are all dead and preserved with the complete absence of any living cells, it is impossible to show on a cadaver head how a living body will react to any process or procedure. Instead the demonstration on the cadaver will allow those participating and observing to see what they otherwise cannot.
There are other issues that arise with the use of cadavers in practicing aesthetic medicine. This includes problems related to embalming techniques.
The Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery published an article on the different methods of embalming to preserve the efficacy of the soft tissues and how cadavers embalmed using the Genelyn method are a better resource. They are “sufficiently good for plastic surgery simulation and [are] much more cost-effective after taking into consideration the logistical requirements.” The article goes on to point out that “plastic surgery trainees can benefit from more practice on the Genelyn cadaveric model.” (Source).
Cadavers are becoming more expensive and harder to find for medical practice outside of medical schools (Source). This means that less people have access to them as educational tools than are actually doing real work on live people using new and sometimes complicated techniques. Thus, when the opportunity arises to work on cadavers, it is well worth your time to take it. CME opportunities like the ones offered at SCALE 2019 using these models will greatly benefit you.
Cadavers and Living Models at Medical Conferences
Cadaver labs at conference centers and hotels are a growing practice in the medical field. Reuters wrote a fascinating investigative report on this:
Cadaver labs are often part of medical association meetings for practitioners in fields ranging from spinal surgery to rhinoplasty. Or they are hosted by medical device companies who want doctors to try new products. The seminars are usually staffed by companies that run mobile labs. These companies often provide the donated bodies or body parts used by the doctors – such as torsos, hands, and legs – either from the company’s own donor program or from other non-transplant tissue banks.
Surgeons say no manikin or computer simulation can replicate the experience of practicing on a human specimen. And mobile lab providers say seminars at hotels and convention centers fill a gap. They allow many more practitioners access to training than could be accommodated at permanent lab facilities such as hospitals.
It is important to acknowledge that cadaver heads alone are not sufficient to learn with. Even those cadaver heads that are exceptionally preserved for the use of practice and teaching still lack living tissue. This is why the use of cadaver heads along side live patients in demonstrations is the best way to teach aesthetic medicine techniques. While those live patient models are getting their treatment, the students and audience have the opportunity to be shown exactly how the fats, tendons, muscles, cartilage, and skin interact to that treatment from the inside out. At the same time, they will get to see the techniques and results on live models.
The combination of the two, enhanced with the technology available in 2019 to magnify and illuminate both the cadavers and the living models for up close observation, is just one of the ways that the instructors and speakers at the best conference for aesthetic medical professionals are designing experiences that will enhance your medical practice.