Specialty Areas

Areas of Plastic Surgery

St Vincent's plastic surgery unit has always been a world leader in microsurgery and in particular, with it's use for breast reconstruction. Our unit passionately believes in discussing breast reconstruction with all patients about to undergo breast surgery, including mastectomy, as well as treating those patients who have had a mastectomy in the past.

Hand Surgery

St. Vincent’s hospital has had a long tradition of treatment of all conditions relating to the hand and wrist. Many techniques in hand reconstruction including replantation, post trauma reconstruction and transplantation have been pioneered at St. Vincent’s hospital. The Hand Surgery Unit is now comprised of many world renowned surgeons presenting invited lectures and symposia at international meetings and publishing in premier journals of hand surgery. Ongoing research in hand surgery is facilitated by the establishment of the Hand and Wrist Biomechanical Laboratory in association with the Bernard O’Brien Institute. Surgeons at the St. Vincent’s Hand Surgery Unit treat all conditions afflicting the hand and wrist, including traumatic, developmental and degenerative conditions.

Head & Neck

Head and neck surgery has traditionally been seen as one of the most technically challenging areas of reconstructive surgery, and one in which the patient cohort are derived from among the most medically compromised patients in the hospital. Microsurgery revolutionized the head and neck surgeons unit to reconstruct complicated three-dimensional defects comprised of composite tissues, such as bone, skin and soft tissue covering. This ability has meant that one inoperable cancers are being considered for treatment using an ever-expanding armamentarium of treatments. Nevertheless, such complex surgery requires a considered, multidisciplinary approach that derives opinions and expertise from a variety of specialists. Surgical cases are referred to the unit either from surgeons who work in the unit or from external sources such as GPs, Dentists, ENT or plastic surgeons. Wednesday operating lists are dedicated to the resection and reconstruction of surgical candidates and multidisciplinary meetings are conducted every Thursday morning.

Research and Training

The O'Brien Institute

The O’Brien Institute (OBI) was established in 1970 to promote research and training in microsurgery, making key contributions to clinical and experimental research over the past 30 years. The OBI developed a pre-eminent reputation, attracting over 200 surgical researchers from the US, UK, Europe, Japan and elsewhere since 1972, many of whom have returned to their home countries to become leaders in the field. Key advances were made by OBI in replantation surgery and transfer of body parts and tissues by microsurgical techniques to reconstruct patients touched by trauma, cancer, burns or congenital deformity. Further, techniques to re-direct the flow of lymph fluid accumulated in a limb or body part to do injury or obstruction after cancer treatment were pioneered at OBI. The OBI Department evolved into basic science research, particularly in Tissue Engineering, Angiogenesis, Matrix Biology, Peripheral Nerve Regeneration, Anti-fibrosis, and Ischaemia Reperfusion Injury. Driving this research is a tradition of keen clinical observation, patient-driven translational research and a close relationship with the clinical plastic surgery unit at St Vincent’s Hospital.

St vincent’s clinical research committee

The research sub-committee has been developed in order to facilitate the production of world class high quality clinical research. This builds on the historical foundation of basic science research which occurs at the world renowned O’Brien Institute. The committee’s major charter is to provide an in depth educational tool for budding clinical researchers. Clinical papers generated through the St Vincent’s plastic surgery and hand unit will be published in various different ways including –

  • Invited lecturer at National and International conferences
  • Free papers at conferences
  • Poster presentation at National and international conferences
  • Publication in peer reviewed plastic surgical journals
  • Publication in world-wide released textbooks

The members of the subcommittee are –

  • Damien Grinsell (Chair)
  • Wayne Morrison
  • Ramin Shayan
  • Sophie Ricketts

Any junior researchers who have an interest in conducting research can contact any of the members above for prospective projects or email Damien on damiengrinsell@gmail.com.


The unit has recently established a position for recently graduated overseas surgeons to work and learn further at St Vincents Hospital. This allows growth of international contacts, profile and reputation. It also allows for the cross pollination of skill, knowledge and ideas. Selection has been very competitive and reflects the high standard of the surgery in our unit.


The St.Vincent’s Plastic, Reconstructive and Hand Surgery Unit plays a significant role in the training of surgeons. The unit is responsible for two advanced trainees in the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons(RACS) Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery programme with each trainee completing 6 month terms in the unit. The unit also contributes to the RACS Post Fellowship Education and Training (PFET) programme in Hand Surgery with a 12 month position in conjunction with the Victorian Hand Surgery Associates. The unit runs an educational programme with tutorials, journal clubs and seminars for junior and advanced trainees