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Chicago Hosts the World for Record-Setting ASPS Meeting

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The 2018 edition of ASPS lived up to its billing as the “meeting with more,” shattering expectations by drawing more than 3,700 attendees from around the globe to the Windy City from Sept. 28-Oct. 1. Ranking as the highest-attended annual scientific meeting of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Plastic Surgery Foundation and American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons to date, ASPS18 also offered more in terms of opportunities for families, international colleagues and educational offerings than ever before.

The four-day event in Chicago drew more than 1,000 attendees from 74 countries outside the United States. Italy was honored as the ceremonial Guest Nation, represented by a contingent of 56 Italian representatives, including Dr. Marco Klinger, a world-renowned plastic surgeon from the University of Milan, who delivered the Maliniac Lecture.

Dr. Klinger summed up his own surgical experience in a way that seemed appropriate not only to the various members of his audience, but to the international plastic surgery community that gathered in Chicago: “We are like an Olympic team,” he said. “We can work with all specialties and ages. The old surgeons give experience; the young give new ideas.”

The legion of international attendees were greeted warmly with a large international lounge, where overseas colleagues could meet, mingle and network with global partners. The meeting also featured its first-ever series of Spanish-language educational programming. Further expounding on the international flavor, ASPS also unveiled a multilingual update to its member app which is now available in Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Japanese and Italian.

Among the various lectures and courses available to members, several hot topics in the specialty were at the forefront of conversation. J. Peter Rubin, MD, co-chair of the multi-society Task Force for Safety in Gluteal Fat Grafting (an unprecedented collaboration between ASPS, ASAPS, ISAPS, ISPRES and IFATS) led a course on gluteal fat-grafting safety that included the latest findings from the task force’s ongoing anatomic studies. The meeting also offered two courses on BIA-ALCL dedicated to informing patients of the risks and offering updates on the condition and how it has affected the specialty.

Building on the family-oriented offerings of the 2017 annual meeting in Orlando, this year’s Chicago event went all-in on creating the most family-friendly meeting to date — including child care services onsite in its specially-designated Kids Zone, where children of attendees and exhibitors could play and be entertained while their parents took in meetings or courses.

ASPS with an assist from corporate partner CareCredit also secured a private suite for a weekend game at Wrigley Field between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals. In addition to children, spouses were welcomed not only to the city, but into the meeting itself. In fact, during a panel on wellness moderated by 2018 ASPS President Jeffrey Janis, MD, his wife, Emily, discussed some of the challenges they experience in balancing their careers and young family, while sharing tips about how to maintain a healthy relationship when a spouse seems to have an unending string of commitments inside and outside the office.

In addition to drawing the biggest names in plastic surgery, the meeting also featured big names from the sports and entertainment worlds. In his presentation, “The Intrinsic Characteristics of a Winning Team,” Jed Hoyer, executive vice president and general manager of the Chicago Cubs, detailed the process of building World Series champion teams for both the Boston Red Sox (2004, 2007) and the Chicago Cubs (2016). He said that in both cases, the project centered around building a culture that not only attracted talent, but also engendered camaraderie and familial feeling. Translating that to plastic surgery practices, he said that the mistakes in team management often come when you try to be too aggressive.

“Saturday Night Live” alum Dana Carvey headlined a fundraising event for The Plastic Surgery Foundation on Sunday night which, combined with a silent auction, supported The PSF’s mission of funding research that can advance the field. The star of classic sketches such as “Wayne’s World,” “The Church Lady” and “Hans and Franz” also took time to meet and take photos with some of the Society’s members prior to his appearance.

ASPS also took steps to give back to its host city by organizing the “Close the Loop 5k” — a fun run/walk through the city’s picturesque Lincoln Park that directed all proceeds to providing care for breast reconstruction patients in the Chicago area.

During its Closing Ceremony on Oct. 1, the presidents of ASPS, The PSF and ASMS — Dr. Janis, Arun Gosain, MD, and Don Mackay, MD, respectively — “passed the gavel” to their successors. The event marked the first time the traditional ceremony was held on a public stage as the crowd welcomed new ASPS President Alan Matarasso, MD; PSF President Andrea Pusic, MD, MHS; and ASMS President Peter Taub, MD.

Looking to build on the success of this record-setting annual meeting, ASPS 2019 will take place in San Diego, Sept. 20–23. The 88th annual meeting will provide the next chapter in world-class plastic surgery education, techniques and science — as well as networking, family, entertainment and wellness activities for a truly unforgettable experience.

Robert X. Murphy Jr., MD is a Plastic Surgeon in Allentown, PA, and Professor of Surgery at the Morsani School of Medicine. He is also a Current Trustee and Past President of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

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