Intended for healthcare professionals


Theoretical and practical facial soft tissue course

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 27 August 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:cf_ster_facialdipl
  1. Roger Stevens, anatomy demonstrator
  1. 1Imperial College London and University of Oxford, Oxford
  1. rjgs{at}

This one day theoretical and practical facial soft tissue course is organised by Leo Cheng, who is a consultant in oral and maxillofacial surgery at Barts and The London NHS Trust and the Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and a volunteer surgeon on board the Mercy Ships in west Africa. He is assisted by several of his consultant colleagues.

Who is it for?

The course is designed to provide junior trainees with a theoretical background and practical training in handling facial soft tissue. It is most suitable for trainees in oral and maxillofacial surgery; plastic surgery; ear, nose, and throat surgery; and emergency medicine.

How is the course structured?

The morning consists of highly informative lectures about the theory of facial soft tissue handling and repair. In the afternoon there is a practical workshop in which you practise advanced suturing techniques and raising local flaps on simulated tissue using pig skin.

What is covered?

  • Facial anatomy and access incisions

  • Instruments, material, and basic principles

  • Facial wound debridement

  • Closure of facial soft tissue injury

  • Excision and local flap repair

  • Major facial reconstruction both in the United Kingdom and abroad on the Mercy Ships

  • Scar revision

  • Ethics of facial transplantation

  • Basic techniques (correction of dog ears and scar revision) and local flaps (unilateral and bilateral advancement, rhomboid, bilobed, V-Y advancement and rotation flaps, and Z-plasty)

  • Case presentations

When did you do it?

I decided to do this course to develop my existing surgical knowledge and skills, after completing my basic surgical training and while gaining experience in plastic surgery and oral and maxillofacial surgery. I did the course while I was working as an anatomy demonstrator and before doing another job in plastic surgery within a craniofacial unit.

Why did you do it?

I have a genuine interest in facial trauma reconstruction and oncoplastic surgery. The course is organised and taught by consultants at Barts and the Royal London hospitals who have a wealth of experience in facial, head, and neck oncology and trauma. It was an ideal opportunity to gain outstanding training, and it was also exceptional value at £150.

How is the course assessed?

Although there is no formal assessment, practical skills are continuously assessed during the course by experienced oral and maxillofacial surgeons, and all attendees are awarded certificates of attendance and competence.

Was it worth it?

Absolutely yes. The course was excellent value and it was a great advantage to be taught by experts in the field of facial reconstructive surgery such as Leo Cheng, Iain Hutchison, Simon Holmes, Simon Whitley, and Chris Bridle. There were some excellent case presentations of major facial, head, and neck oncology and trauma that the hospital had received via its tertiary cancer and trauma service. The course was extremely well organised, educational, and entertaining as well as being of great practical benefit. There was also plenty of time to learn and practise all the local flaps in the afternoon and to learn about dermoscopy for detecting early skin cancer. We had a delicious buffet lunch at a local restaurant, and members of the teaching faculty were friendly and helpful.

Top tip

Ensure that you have attended a basic surgical skills course or are able to suture competently as the course does not teach the fundamental techniques of suturing.

Further information

Dates and an application form are available at The course administrator is Sajeda Khan: Postgraduate Centre, The Royal London Hospital, 48 Ashfield Street, London E1 2AJ. Tel 0207 377 7760, email sajeda.khan{at}


  • Competing interests: None declared.