An inaugural one and a half day workshop was held in the Department of Anatomy at the University of Melbourne on Friday 13th and all day on Saturday 14th November 2009. The Course was organised by Dr Simon Bernard with the support of Drs Bryan Mendelson and Justin O’Brien and Co Sponsored by the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, with the support and encouragement of the  President of ASAPS, Dr Niamh Corduff.

Thirteen Plastic Surgeons attended the Workshop, along with 8 Faculty.

The Workshop was based around a series of lectures to illustrate the Key Principles in Understanding Facial Anatomy that ran through all Friday afternoon. The topics included relevant facial embryology and facial bone structure by Dr John Ladakis, the Principles of Facial Anatomy, by Dr Bryan Mendelson, Variations in Facial Anatomy, an inspiring and at times humourous approach by the renowned Melbourne anatomy teacher Professor Norm Eisenberg. The vasculature and lymphatics were presented by Professor Ian Taylor, based on original anatomical research carried out at the Brockhoff  Institute in the Anatomy Department.

Dr Chin Ho Wong, a former Mendelson Fellow from the Plastic Surgery Department at the Singapore General Hospital gave an outstanding presentation on Facial Aging, especially that of the facial skeleton.

That night a celebratory Course Dinner was enjoyed by all at the exceptional fine dining restaurant, Ezards, in Flinders Lane, in the City.

Saturday was a full day of dissection. The cadaver heads proved to be of excellent quality for ‘surgical’ dissection and with 4 attendees assigned to each cadaver head there, was much learned discussion about each component being dissected. The attendees were spoilt for assistance, with the ready availability of experienced Plastic Surgery faculty who were ‘on hand’ at all times to minimise wasted time in dissecting and exposing key anatomy.

The final Dissection Session provided free time for the participants to rehearse surgical procedures in a ‘safe’ setting. By the end of the day’s dissecting most of the attendees were too tired from the intensity of the day to continue with further dissection other than some of the more senior surgeons, who explored the facial nerve right up to closing time.

At a follow up Planning meeting following the Course, several important decisions were taken. The dissection should be the focal point of the course as this is where most of the attendees came to realise they really understood the anatomy.

It was realised that our unique Melbourne understanding of facial anatomy, based on the facial spaces, provides a major advantage for the teaching process during the cadaver dissection. Using the spaces provides an easier way of dissecting for the exposure and identification of the key anatomy, in particular, the all important, facial nerve branches.

To further improve the Course additional  time should be allocated for the dissection for a more relaxed and more complete dissection experience. This would require extending the Course for 2 full days and commencing the dissections earlier.

Similarly, it would be beneficial to expand the personal dissection experience for each attendee, by reducing the number of participants to only two per head, in the ideal situation. However, for the next year, to be considered a transition year, there would be three per head. The number of attendees would not yet be increased until it was proven through the 2010 Course that the quality of the Learning and the Dissection experience had been increased to the level intended.

While achieving these improvements, the special atmosphere of collegiality for learning during the Course should be maintained if possible.

Finally, given the much broadened scope of the Workshop in the future, and given its potential appeal for Plastic Surgeons outside Australia, who do not have  an equivalent Course available, the name of the Workshop should be changed to the Melbourne Advanced Facial Anatomy Course.

Click here to download the 2009 Course program.