Reconstructing a person's face is in a way restoring their identity

Nair was one of the surgeons who operated on the Yemenis

32-Yemen Dr Sanjiv Nair

The war in Yemen is just another atrocity created by humans for power. But for a maxillofacial surgeon who treats victims of such an atrocity, it is much more complex. Reconstructing their faces is in a way restoring their identities. Advances in technology have helped in many ways. 3D printing allows us to artificially recreate the original form of the face. The challenge then lies in choosing materials and sites to source the grafts. A combination of implants and vascularised tissues from the patient allows the sculpting of facial bones to their original or near original form.

There are challenges in restoring form and function. But mostly, we are able to help the victim speak, swallow and breathe, which are the minimal requirements. Team planning with the help of images results in the final outcome. No surgeon can restore a person's original face. As it was once said, “Beauty is not a state of perfect symmetry, but of how near it is to perfection.” As a surgeon my aim is to achieve this goal.

The patients' expectation of the surgery's outcome does pose a challenge. Therapy begins with counselling, showing the results of previous procedures, explaining the operations' limitations and offering social support during their stay in the country.

Rehabilitating these victims takes a lot of money and multiple procedures. Maxillofacial surgery, as a super speciality which evolved from World War II, is best equipped to solve this crisis. However, no effort by a surgeon or physician can heal the psychological impact of these injuries. No surgeon would like to see another war victim.

Nair was one of the maxillofacial surgeons who operated on the Yemenis.