The BAPRAS Salamander

17th March 2023


In July 2006 the British Association of Plastic Surgeons (BAPS) changed its name to the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons. This came together with a change of image and a wish to be seen differently by the outside world, to demonstrate the whole breadth of plastic surgery and BAPRAS' place in this in the UK.

One aspect of this was how the association should portray its identity, and thus the development of a new logo to supersede the long used and very familiar BAPS coat of arms, granted by the College of arms in 1955. It had been spotted that on the original arms, there appeared a “lizard” sat upon a rock near the top. BAPS original Archivist, Mr Antony Wallace suggested that the “lizard” had been chosen for its remarkable ability to regenerate a tail if lost to injury, or attack by predator. An ability to perfectly replace function and form after tissue loss represented an ideal in reconstruction for which plastic surgery strives.

The "lizard" was reimagined in the current branding as a salamander.
Their distinguishing feature, and thus relevance to plastic surgeons resides in their regenerative abilities. In response to the effects of injury or more usually predators, they can re-grow, or regenerate, whole limbs, their tails and even significant parts of their eyes, including the lens and retina. How they do this, rather than just healing by scar formation is the subject of much research.
Salamanders are the subject of much mythology, being long ascribed abilities to resist fire and flame. Leonardo Da Vinci believed they derived energy from fire, and both Aristotle and Pliny reported their cool skin’s ability to extinguish flame. It was even believed that they could transfer fire retardant properties to man if their skin (described by William Caxton in 1481 as “wool”) were used to weave garments.
With the salamander’s real and imagined abilities, together with its presence on the old coat of arms, BAPRAS decided to adopt it as their new logo in 2006. There remained however considerable debate in Council about the number of digits to be depicted and whether or not they should be webbed. Salamanders don’t possess webbed digits, whose number varies between fore and hind limb, and sub-species. Our Salamander has four digits on the fore limb and five on the hind.


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