Graduate’s illustrations featured in new plastic surgery textbook

Dr. Jourdan Carboy’s (right) illustrations are included in a new textbook on reconstructive facial surgery.

With only one year left until completion of her medical degree, Jourdan Carboy made a risky decision to take on a special project and temporarily suspend her studies. That choice paid off, considering Dr. Carboy’s illustrations brought to life a new textbook on reconstructive facial surgery.

“It was one of the best years of my life,” the Alaska native said. “This is definitely a first. I had never worked with digital media before, or this type of drawing. It could have been a risk, but our attitude was, ‘Let’s get it done.’ ”

Dr. Carboy, who recently graduated from UT Southwestern Medical School, said the project was everything she could have hoped for, and more.

The textbook, “Facial Reconstruction After Mohs Surgery,” published by Thieme and now available online, was written by Dr. James Thornton, Professor of Plastic Surgery. It summarizes 15 years and 12,000 cases in a surgical practice devoted to post-Mohs facial reconstruction. It is a comprehensive resource on techniques after Mohs resections to address skin cancer.

Dr. Carboy became involved through a grant the Department secured to offer a medical student one year of work in Plastic Surgery between their third and fourth years of education.

“Within five weeks of starting work, she was asking me if we needed illustrations. What she drew by hand were professional grade, and now there are hundreds of them in the textbook,” Dr. Thornton said. “She constantly surprised us with her involvement, enthusiasm, and talents.”

For Dr. Thornton, he called the project “the single most gratifying thing I’ve ever done.” He wrote an outline one October and publication came roughly a year later.

Dr. Jeffrey Kenkel, Chairman of Plastic Surgery, said, “Dr. Thornton is a giant in the field of reconstructive plastic surgery. Our residents have the benefit of his tremendous experience every day, and this book will allow others to learn from someone who has truly ‘seen it all’ optimizing their outcomes in patients following skin cancer removal. It is a must read for every plastic surgeon.”

Mohs surgery is the gold standard for removing common skin cancers, such as melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. It’s especially useful in treating large tumors, tumors where the edges are not well-defined, tumors in certain locations (such as on or near the nose, eyes, ears, forehead, scalp, and fingers), and those that have come back after other treatments.

Dr. Thornton, who uses the most advanced techniques available for these type of reconstructions, has performed thousands of operative cases on a wide variety of soft tissue facial defects, as many patients desire to improve their postsurgery appearance.

Dr. Kenkel holds the Betty and Warren Woodward Chair in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and the Rod J. Rohrich, M.D., Distinguished Professorship in Wound Healing and Plastic Surgery.