Volunteer Guidelines for Plastic Surgeons

    Guidelines for the Care of Children in the Less Developed World

    Preparing for a Mission

    "Volunteers in Plastic Surgery" is a committee of The Plastic Surgery Foundation that serves as a resource for plastic surgeons who participate in overseas volunteer service missions to developing countries. The committee also serves as a forum for individuals and organizations to share best practices in the delivery of care and promote the highest standards of patient safety. The guidelines were approved to be followed by both the volunteers and their hosts when participating in service missions.


    To advance plastic surgery through service, training, education, and research. Go where there is a need and go where you are wanted.


    • Must be from an appropriate official source (i.e., government, hospital, medical school, local medical/surgical society).
    • Must contact the local plastic surgery society and have a liaison with the host organization.
    • Consider a letter of intent or contract.

    Plan the Mission

    • Proper planning is imperative-(mission purpose).
    • Appropriate scheduling for surgery, clinics, education, etc.-taking into consideration local holidays, customs, etc.
    • Must work in conjunction with the local plastic surgeons.
    • Plan for personnel and equipment as well as specific details (documents, health needs, customs, weather, transportation, food, lodging, etc.).
    • Provide documentation of team credentials.

    The Mission

    • Surgery to be done either by experts or by senior residents or fellows under their supervision, all being properly credentialed and have appropriate hospital privileges in their home country. The team leader should be Board Certified.
    • Includes surgery training, teaching (formal lectures).
    • No experimental or untried procedures to be done.
    • Aesthetic surgery should not be part of the mission.
    • Make available a group/committee to deal with untoward events.
    • All media contacts should be only with host approval.
    • Determine parameters/facilities for what can be done.
    • Maintain records with photos-kept by both host facility and visiting team.
    • It is the responsibility of the team to arrange for appropriate short and long term post-operative care of the patients.

    Mission Follow-Up

    • Possible ongoing future trips.
    • Further assistance (books, equipment, teaching aids, other specialty doctors).
    • Possible exchange programs.
    • Final report (cases, numbers, problems, suggestions for future quality improvements, etc.).


    • Use only certified/senior personnel.
    • Adhere to high standards of quality of surgery, care, and teaching.
    • Be sensitive to host needs and customs.
    • Support and promote the spirit of volunteerism and altruism.
    • Be a Good Guest!

    VIPS Organization Affiliations of Members