Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mixed Martial Arts, a competitive edge through plastic surgery?

This post on Gizmodo from Wired has an interesting take on how plastic surgery might actually give mixed martial artists a competitive advantage. I am not a fan and can not say I have anything more than a casual awareness of this sport, but I have seen enough to know that these competitors can get pretty banged up and cut during their matches. It turns out (probably not surprising) that the first aid and attention to their wounds is not top notch medical care. Apparently, the improper suturing results in significant buildup of scar tissue. The doctor featured in the article talks about how he has helped many fighters by removing the scar buildup and rebuilding their faces using donor cadaver tissue. In the process however, it sounds as if they have come across an advantage to this process, which is that new wounds have little to no bleeding. If this is the case, it takes the process into the realm of what is cosmetic, what is medically necessary, and what is cheating? Taking EPO to bulk up your red blood cells is medically necessary for some patients with anemia, but is an illegal performance enhancer for endurance athletes (especially cyclists). On the other hand, training at altitude has roughly the same red-cell-boosting effect for athletes as EPO, but altitude training is completely legal.

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