MMA leading the way in sports performance enhancement surgery

by Jake Rossen | source:


Las Vegas plastic surgeon Frank Stile had a suggestion for Nick Diaz: What if he dug out the gunk and replaced it with the “fresh” tissue of a cadaver? Sure, the procedure had been used for cosmetic purposes, but never for athletic performance.

Diaz, whose entire livelihood is tied up in his ability to withstand violence long enough to dish out his own, agreed. In the nine fights he’s had since, Diaz has barely bled an ounce.

The scalpel is rapidly approaching the steroid, supplement or loaded glove as the new edge.

“Wherever there’s a bony prominence or a sharp ridge on an anatomical area on their skull that creates a sharp edge — on the cheek, the orbital rib on the eyebrow, the bridge of the nose — you’re going to get cut,” Stile says.

The surgery for Diaz meant doing something about his sharp bones.

After marking the borders of the scar, Stile wheeled Diaz into the operating theater and sliced his brow open. All of the scar tissue underneath the epidermis was removed. With the bone revealed, Stile rasped it down with a chisel to a smooth surface.

In place of the scar tissue went a Neoform collagen pledget, made from a cadaver’s sterilized donor tissue. Stile sewed it onto the periosteum, a covering over the bone that acts as an anchor. This time, Stile sewed the wound from the inside out.

“There was a very steep learning curve for both of us,” Stile says. “Fortunately, it worked.”

At the time of the surgery, Diaz’s ring efficacy was questionable. Today, he’s the welterweight champion of Strikeforce.

Eventually, Stile might have new answers for nasal issues: Phil Baroni had Stile reshape a nose already several times broken, allowing him to breathe more easily and keep his jaw from hanging open to get air.

It won’t be tomorrow, or next year, but eventually athletic commissions across the United States will need to determine the validity of using surgery to improve performance. The Association of Boxing Commissions is investigating the issue in its medical committee, which may issue a report this summer.

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tags: UFC   Phil Baroni (detail)  Nate Diaz (detail)  video   

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Recent Comments »

easy_v site profile image  

3/12/11 10:25 AM by easy_v

Actually, i think Greb died from an eye surgery so that isnt the example i'm thinkin of!

easy_v site profile image  

3/12/11 10:19 AM by easy_v

To Kirik, I think if you look waaaay back through boxing there definately are instances of fighters having the bones around their eyes smoothed. Harry Greb springs to mind, though i could be off on that call.

Intervention of Suffocation site profile image  

3/12/11 2:38 AM by Intervention of Suffocation

This isn't really fair... Next thing you know the British will start getting shock absorbers implanted into their oral cavities preventing touch knockouts. Where's the fun in that?

1MMAfan site profile image  

3/12/11 1:55 AM by 1MMAfan

Shocking amount of Baroni-Boners in this forum. Call me when he beats someone

Tap In site profile image  

3/12/11 1:04 AM by Tap In


Tap In site profile image  

3/12/11 12:52 AM by Tap In

Should not be legal. Next, people will be getting their elbows sharpened

Intervention of Suffocation site profile image  

3/12/11 12:35 AM by Intervention of Suffocation

Maybe fighters should start getting their knucles sharpened with some thicker skin so they can cut their opponents faces more efficiently.

bhealthy site profile image  

3/11/11 6:45 PM by bhealthy

i sure hope the next bitch-arsed gang of punks that jumps me has sharp eyebrow bones.

headstrong site profile image  

3/11/11 6:22 PM by headstrong

too bad that doctor and his team cant implant skills and talent into baroni, his looks are the least of his worries....reeeekkeeeeee

Kirik site profile image  

3/11/11 5:49 PM by Kirik

 The removal of scar tissue is not an issue and has been done in boxing for many years. The issue is filing down sharp bones around the eyes. Some guys bones are sharper, so they cut. This is something you are born with. Getting hit does not make the bones sharper. This has not happened before in sports, and should rightly be debated.