Presidents of their profession

Consultant becomes first female president of plastic surgeon association

Miss Mary O'Brien, Consultant Plastic and Hand Surgeon

A UHDB surgeon has been named as the President of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), becoming the first female President of the Association in its 41 year history.

BAAPS is an Association of Plastic Surgeons dedicated to Safety, Education, Ethics and Innovation in Plastic and Aesthetic Surgery.

Miss Mary O’Brien, Consultant Plastic and Hand Surgeon based at the Pulvertaft Hand Centre in the Royal Derby Hospital, began her role at the BAAPS in October 2014 when she was elected to the Council. For several years, she organised and lectured on the national training programme for trainees and contributed to international meetings.

She chaired various committees including Professional Standards and Public Relations, and has been involved with the Department of Health and Social Care regarding legislation within the sector. In 2018, she became Vice President and two years later, in October 2020, was appointed as President.

Miss O’Brien said: “It’s a huge privilege and responsibility to have been appointed into this role by my peers and is an opportunity for which I am very grateful. I have a fantastic team of colleagues that I work alongside on Council and within the Secretariat who are all really motivated and supportive in achieving the goals of the Association.

“I am really looking forward to embracing the challenges and opportunities the role brings, particularly at this point in time, and making a contribution to the future direction of the fantastic specialty of plastic and reconstructive surgery.”

She added: “Plastic Surgery is a broad specialty encompassing a range of procedures, from functional and reconstructive, to the more aesthetic end of the spectrum. Plastic surgery is not all about the surgical operation, psychology plays an important part in patient selection and managing expectations. Safety, education and ethical surgery is what I would like to focus on during my tenure, building on the excellent work of my predecessors.”

The media’s perception of plastic surgery is something that Miss O’Brien is keen to tackle during her time in the role. She said: “Trivialisation, glamourisation and over-promotion of plastic surgery can lead to sensationalism in the press and is not a true representation of our profession. These are issues that I am keen to address.

“It has been inspirational talking to colleagues as part of a recently launched podcast ‘Knife to Life’ that demonstrates what life as a plastic surgeon is really like and how we can best provide high quality care for patients.”

The on-going pandemic is having a big impact on the role, but Miss O’Brien sees this as a chance for plastic surgeons to continue to use their skills to provide care in emergency and trauma settings:

“Although a difficult time for many, I am pleased to be taking on this role during the pandemic because, as a full-time NHS plastic and hand surgeon, I feel that I can offer a wider perspective on what we as plastic surgeons can offer in support of the wider NHS and national effort at this critical time.

“The vaccination rollout offers hope and is the key to opening up elective surgery and society as a whole. One resource that plastic surgeons often have is an effective social media network. I would like the members of our Association to look at how we can use this to support positive messaging behind an effective roll out of vaccines across our global networks in the #RollUpYourSleeves2021 campaign.”

Kathy McLean, Chair, said: “It is fantastic to see our local leaders here at UHDB are being recognised nationally and becoming leaders in the respective fields. Seeing so many women leading the way and being role models and to have so many of those inspirational leaders with us here at the Trust is really encouraging, and is a testament to the work we continue to do become a fully inclusive and equal organisation for all.”