“Chance favors only the mind that is prepared”

“Chance favors only the mind that is prepared.”(Louis Pasteur, 1854).  My father taught me the importance of this statement while we were discussing the options for a specific surgery.  This exercise trained me to envision the possible outcomes of each decision I could make as a physician.  Louis Pasteur’s quotation resonates in my mind because it has always been part of my own philosophy.  The decisions we make as doctors, no matter how small, alter the environment in which we work.  A surgeon should have multiple outcomes in mind prior to making an incision.  Once an action is executed, a cascade of events may prevent the surgeon from encountering the expected anatomical landscape; adhesions remind you of another surgeon’s footprints and a bleeding vessel may alter the course of the present surgery.  The ability to show foresight and assuredness allows the surgeon to gain a patient’s trust.  There is no field in medicine where this idea of consequence is more apparent on both physical and emotional levels than in plastic surgery.  There is also no other field that fills me with more passion and excitement.

Plastic and reconstructive surgery has always impressed me.  The surgeon is able to redefine anatomy and physically alter the landscape of the human body using flap rotations and free tissue transfer while keeping aesthetic ideals in mind.  The surgeon is not confined to a set procedure.  With a profound knowledge of the human body and the healing process, a plastic surgeon is able to create a unique solution to a specific problem.  The physical repair of a defect is accomplished while addressing the patient’s psychological anguish of disfigurement.  Pasteur’s quotation is crystallized with plastic surgery.  As a field it is distinguished from other surgical subspecialties by its meticulous plans and designs. Furthermore, there is consistent innovation when approaching surgical problems.  Operations are filled with options, from primary closure, skin grafts and local flaps to regional, myocutaneous and free flaps.  We have even more options looking toward the promise of tissue engineering.  I have found that plastic surgery has the perfect balance of creativity and precision.