Anatomically Correct

By James Vargo, M.D., PGY6

I’ve never really considered myself to be an artist.  I grew up enjoying pencil sketching and took some high school classes, but compared to the talent of the true creative and artistic minds around me, expression of my right brain felt forced.  This hobby, like many, was pushed to the side by the ever expanding time commitment to medical school and residency.

I never considered medical illustration until a senior resident asked me to sketch a few pictures for a research submission since I wrote “pencil art” on my hobbies section of my residency application. I always loved anatomy in medical school, but illustration taught me how to truly appreciate 3-D spatial relationships.  This has been invaluable during surgical training. As time has gone on, I have learned that great illustration is more than just creating a detailed or ’sexy’ image, it’s telling a story. As I come to an end of my training in plastic surgery, I am very thankful for all of the lessons that my art has taught me, and I hope to continue this throughout my career. 

Instagram: @Vargo_Medical_illustration

  1. TUG drawing. My first published illustration on pencil and paper. This demonstrated different patterns of anastomosis and inset for dual flap breast reconstruction
TUG drawing, reproduced with permission from James D. Vargo, MD

2. Genioglossal Advancement. This illustration demonstrates a technique for genioglossal advancement for sleep apnea

Genioglossal advancement, reproduced with permission from James D. Vargo, MD

3. Nasolabial Injection. This illustration demonstrates appropriate needle depth for nasolabial fold filler injection

Nasolabial injection, reproduced with permission from James D. Vargo, MD

4. Spinal Venous Plexus. This illustration shows pathologic dilation of the spinal venous plexus

Spinal venous plexus, reproduced with permission from James D. Vargo, MD

5. Facial Anatomy. This demonstrates key facial ligamentous anatomy as well as important structures and their relationships to the facial nerve

Facial anatomy, reproduced with permission from James D. Vargo, MD

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