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20th April 2012, 4:05pm
Top plastic surgeons emulate da Vinci in sculpting and life-drawing skills
Plastic surgeons at work Consultant plastic surgeons from around the world  have worked alongside art academics at the University of Lincoln to develop drawing and modelling skills to use in the operating theatre.

The course aimed  to revive the ancient link between medicine and art. The objective of this pioneering training was to instil in surgeons the same aesthetic principles which underpin artists’ understanding of the form of the human body so they can achieve better outcomes for patients requiring breast and facial reconstruction. Classes were led by distinguished Australian reconstruction artist and academic Professor Michael Esson.

Michael Healey, Professor of Art and Design at the University of Lincoln, said: “Throughout history, the disciplines of art and medicine have been closely entwined, from the times of Aristotle and Hippocrates in ancient Greece, through to Galen and later Leonardo da Vinci in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

“With the great advances in medicine in the last century, there seems to have been a divergence between the two.”

A major research project, entitled The Art of Reconstruction and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), is linked to the training. It will lead to journal articles, a dedicated website, videos, teaching materials and the establishment of an international network of surgeons, artists and academics with more training opportunities in the coming years.

Prof Healey, who is leading the research, added: “When we ran the pilot workshops, we found that quite a lot of what we take for granted in art and design was new to the surgeons: positioning, proportion, lighting and the weight of clay were explored, for example.

“Our research seeks to find the answers to a number of important questions. Can we offer new ways of understanding and communicating complex visual information which are of use to the medical profession? Can we examine the value of art-based skills to the understanding of aesthetic considerations within the operating theatre? Can we improve on perceptions of success among pre-and post-operative patients and surgeons in the NHS?”

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