Evaluating the Economic Impact of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgical Efforts in the Developing World: The ReSurge Experience


Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery


James Chang
Gloria Sue

Date Published: September 2019
Economic impact and cost effectiveness


As the global burden of disease continues to rise, it becomes increasingly important to determine the sustainability of specialty surgery in the developing world. The authors aim to (1) evaluate the cost-effectiveness of plastic and reconstructive surgery in the developing world and (2) quantify the economic benefit.


In this study, the authors performed a retrospective analysis of surgical trips performed by ReSurge International from 2014 to 2017. The organization gathered data on trip information, cost, and clinical characteristics. The authors measured the cost-effectiveness of the interventions using cost per disability-adjusted life-years and defined cost-effectiveness using World Health Organization Choosing Interventions That Are Cost-Effective thresholds. The authors also performed a cost-to-benefit analysis using the human capital approach.


A total of 22 surgical trips from eight different developing countries were included in this study. The authors analyzed a total of 756 surgical interventions. The cost-effectiveness of the surgical trips ranged from $52 to $11,410 per disability-adjusted life-year averted. The economic benefit for the 22 surgical trips was $9,795,384. According to World Health Organization Choosing Interventions That Are Cost-Effective thresholds, 21 of the surgical trips were considered very cost-effective or cost-effective.


Plastic and reconstructive operations performed during short-term surgical trips performed by this organization are economically sustainable. High-volume trips and those treating complex surgical conditions prove to be the most cost-effective. To continue to receive monetary funding, providing fiscally sustainable surgical care to low- and middle-income countries is imperative.