Health Equity and Healthcare Disparities in Plastic Surgery: What We Can Do

Sumun Khetpal, Joseph Lopez, Richard J. Redett, Derek M. Steinbacher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Amidst the unexpected losses and challenges of 2020, healthcare disparities and health equity have presided as noteworthy topics of national discussion among healthcare workers, governmental officials, and society at large. Health equity, defined as the opportunity for everyone to be as healthy as possible, may be achieved through the alleviation of healthcare disparities. Healthcare disparities are defined as “preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities to achieve optimal health that are experienced by socially disadvantaged populations.” While these concepts may be perceived as a departure from the core responsibility of plastic surgeons, it is of paramount importance to recognize how race, socioeconomic status (SES), and physical environment impact access to care, surgical outcomes, and postoperative recovery for vulnerable populations. In this communication, our purpose is two-fold: 1) to elucidate the existent healthcare disparities and associations with race and SES in craniofacial, trauma, breast, hand, and gender-affirming reconstruction; and 2) provide tangible recommendations to incorporate the concepts of health equity and healthcare disparities in clinical, research, community, and recruitment settings for plastic surgeons. Through such knowledge, plastic surgeons may glean important insights that may enhance the delivery of equitable and accessible care for patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3251-3259
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Health equity
  • healthcare disparities
  • plastic surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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