This is Y Dim.
Her father calls her a ghost and doesn't love her because of the way she looks.
Her mother hopes that will change with this operation.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Everyday on RealSelf (a community for sharing information on cosmetic and reconstructive procedures) we see millions of stories of transformation. But for all the stories we receive, there are medical need to go unfulfilled. there are voices that go unheard. So when we learned that plastic surgeons Bill McClure and Jorge Palacios were going on one of their annual medical trips to Vietnam we knew we had to be a part of it. To see first-hand the lives that can be transformed with a relatively simple cosmetic procedure. In Quy Nhon, Vietnam we saw families travel for miles or days for a chance to be seen by the visiting doctors. Their ailments varied from birth defects, cleft lips, severe burns, and more. Conditions that, in America, are often treated early and quickly and therefore rarely seen. With a limited window of time and resources, not all families who came were able to be treated, making the initial clinic day an extremely emotional experience.


Amongst the chaos of crying babies, worried mothers, and waiting families, a mild-mannered farmer slipped in. His name is Tam and he has been waiting 58 years to have his cleft lip repaired. His mother died when he was a few months old, and his father died a year after that. He spent his childhood being passed around among various relatives. Tam dropped out of school in the third grade because his cleft was getting bigger and the other students bullied him. As an adult he is still ostracized for what is seen as a disfigurement. Tam has been coming to clinic days like these for the past 28 years only to be turned away due to his age. But this day was different. With this team, he finally had the chance to be seen for surgery.

The surgery he’d been waiting so long for lasted about an hour, yet it instantly changed his life. For the first time his smile, his face, was whole. Veteran Team Leader George Gregory sums up the emotion.


Tam was not alone. Over an extremely busy 10 days, Dr. Palacios and Dr. McClure, along with the team of volunteers, screened over 166 patients. Of those, 87 were operated on for a total of 111 procedures. Those unable to have surgery this time were given priority letters to return next year.

ReSurge, a non-profit organization that provides reconstructive surgery in the developing world, estimates that 2 billion people worldwide lack access to basic surgical care.
Surgical costs in these areas are $250 per person. $250 to change a life forever.

RealSelf is committed to changing at least 500 lives. With your help we can do more.

Learn more at

Stories of Transformation: How a 45-Minute Operation Can Change a Life Forever

Behind every reconstructive surgery is an amazing human story of change. Our team witnessed this firsthand in Quy Nhon, Vietnam, on a medical trip financially supported by RealSelf.