Health & Safety

March 15, 2019

Nellis plastic surgery – more than just cosmetic

Shireen Bedi
Air Force Surgeon General’s Office

Lt. Col. (Dr.) Benjamin Monson, chief of reconstructive and plastic surgery with the 99th Medical Group at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nev., poses for a photo, March 2, 2019. The U.S. Air Force has plastic surgery practices available for patients at Nellis; Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; and Travis Air Force Base, Calif.

The 99th Medical Group at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., offers a wide range of services to maintain Airman readiness and care to their families. What many may not know, is the importance of their plastic surgery practice.

Lt. Col. (Dr.) Benjamin Monson, chief of reconstructive and plastic surgery and the sole plastic surgeon at Nellis, explains plastic surgery is far more than just cosmetic surgery.

“We also do a lot of work to restore form and function,” said Monson. “Plastic surgery can help with anything from hand surgery, to cancer reconstruction, to peripheral nerve surgery. We can help improve sensation and take away chronic pain. We also take care of congenital deformities and work on Airmen who require wound or scar management.”

A majority of cases Monson handles focuses on cancer reconstruction, specifically for breast cancer patients, something that is not widely available off base.

“Las Vegas is actually fairly underserved when it comes to breast cancer management,” said Monson. “Although there are a ton of plastic surgeons, few in the area do cancer reconstruction.”

Monson works hard to provide his patients with the best care.

“Plastic surgeons get called on to do all kinds of things,” said Monson. “There are days where I’ll do a procedure on the face, and then my next case will be something on the lower extremity.”

The 99th Medical Group has an established relationship with the University of Nevada — Las Vegas. Monson uses this as an opportunity to work with some of the plastic surgery residents and get involved in bigger, more complex cases.

Monson also makes the most of the breadth of expertise right at the 99th MDG to get exposure to a wide range of cases.

“What’s great about the military system is that we are extremely collaborative with the other specialties,” said Monson. “We let each other know when we have bigger cases and we work with each other as much as possible to help cross train and maintain exposure to a wider range of cases.”

One thing that Monson stresses is that patients should know the many ways plastic surgeons provide care beyond cosmetic procedures.

“Plastic surgery is one of the few fields where it is still truly generalized,” said Monson. “We treat from the top of the head to the bottom of the feet. There is a lot more to plastic surgery that many may not realize.”

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