Plastic Surgery for Cut-Prone Fighters

The New York Times has an article up focusing on Dr. Frank Stile's procedures that helped Marcus Davis and Nick Diaz be less prone to cutting:

In 16 years as a professional boxer and mixed martial arts fighter, Marcus Davis has received stitches above his eyes 77 times. The cuts have affected him: doctors have stopped fights, and his battered face, he says, has influenced judges’ decisions.

Last summer, Davis, 35, contacted a plastic surgeon in Las Vegas. He wanted to make his skin less prone to cutting. The surgeon, Dr. Frank Stile, burred down the bones around Davis’s eye sockets. He also removed scar tissue around his eyes and replaced it with collagen made from the skin of cadavers.

Now, at least in theory, when Davis takes a blow to the face, he will be less likely to bleed.



 [Nick Diaz] sustained cuts above each eye during the first round of a 2007 title bout, the referees stopped the fight, fearing the blood would affect his vision. Facing the prospect of being cut again and potentially losing another crack at a title, Diaz went to Stile for plastic surgery.

Since the surgery, Diaz has won his last five fights. He has sparred countless times in the gym and has not had a "serious cut," Cesar Gracie, Diaz’s coach and manager, said.

They also mentioned a few concerns on the ethical implications of leaning towards surgery in the sport of MMA:

"Where do you stop?" said Dr. Sherry Wulkan, a ringside physician who works for the New York and New Jersey state athletic control boards.

Stile, however, emphasized that the surgery he performed on Davis and Diaz "is not enhancement.. It levels the playing field," he said. "It gives them the ability to be like they were never cut before."

"Surgery isn’t for everyone, but if it helps them, more power to them," said Marc Ratner, the U.F.C.’s vice president for regulatory affairs and a former executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

There has already been quite a few debates and discussions on the ethical issues of electing for surgery, but i think this should also be a reason to start addressing the reasons why people like Marcus Davis and others have that much unstable scar tissue:

"The issue", Stile said, "is not the fact that they cut; it’s that after they cut, their wounds are not treated appropriately."

Cutting alone does not produce the type of scarring that plagued Diaz and Davis, doctors said. A contributing factor, doctors and mixed martial arts fighters said, is that the fighters sometimes receive suturing that is not suitable for athletes in a combat sport.

Another problem is that fighters tend to return to competition and practice too soon after injuries. Davis said money was a driving force. "This is my job," he said. "I have four kids. I don’t have a choice."

Personally, I don't consider that kind of surgery as "performance enhancing". I see repairing scar tissue to be on the lines of people have surgeries to correct their eye sight, or to repair other injuries like broken hands. I don't think it gives you an unfair advantage, I just see it as a damaged body part that needs to be fixed.

That being said, I think the bigger and more important issue here is addressing the reasons that causes scar tissue to be that unstable. Before entering MMA, Marcus Davis has had a long boxing career, and may it be because monetary problems or maybe just being uninformed, but he didn't get to treat his injuries on the most efficient way possible. If people know and understand the causes, they'd get the importance of treating cuts properly thus lessening the need to get that $7500 surgery.

As the doc said, "These MMA guys get such deep lacerations", so they should learn how to treat it the right way.

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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