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Winston-Salem Surgeon Louis C. Argenta, MD, FACS, Receives the 2016 Jacobson Innovation Award of the American College of Surgeons

International award recognizes surgeon’s accomplishments in development of Vacuum-Assisted Closure


CHICAGO (June 6, 2016): Louis C. Argenta, MD, FACS, received the 2016 Jacobson Innovation Award of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) at a dinner held in his honor this evening in Chicago, Ill. Dr. Argenta is professor and chairman emeritus, department of plastic and reconstructive surgery, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, N.C. The prestigious Jacobson Innovation Award honors living surgeons who have been innovators of a new development or technique in any field of surgery and is made possible through a gift from Julius H. Jacobson II, MD, FACS, and his wife Joan. Dr. Jacobson is a general vascular surgeon known for his pioneering work in the development of microsurgery.

Dr. J. David Richardson (right) President of the American College of Surgeons presents Dr. Louis Argenta (left) with the 2016 Jacobson Innovation Award. 

Dr. Argenta, a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (FACS), was honored with this international surgical award in recognition of his work with Wake Forest bioengineer Michael Morykwas, PhD, in the development of Vacuum-Assisted Closure (VAC), a paradigm-changing approach to the treatment of difficult wounds and burns.

VAC, which utilizes negative pressure wound therapy, is widely recognized as the most important advancement in wound healing in the past 25 years. By clinically applying a controlled vacuum through a special device to a wound, the body can be induced to develop new tissue and wounds that previously could not heal are made to heal spontaneously.

VAC is estimated to have prevented one million amputations and has been used in the treatment of over 14 million patients around the world. It has been used by U.S. military medical personnel for almost all battlefield injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan, dramatically reducing wound infection and complications, and significantly improving the outcomes of wounded soldiers.

Dr. Argenta is an internationally recognized expert in mechanobiology—the application of controlled mechanical energy to induce biological changes in living tissue—and its applications in clinical medicine. He helped develop and popularize the surgical technique of tissue expansion to generate living tissue for reconstruction. Tissue expansion is now used throughout the world for complicated breast, facial, and scalp reconstructions.

The work of Dr. Argenta has also been instrumental in allowing infants with skull deformities to develop normally while avoiding major cranial surgery. In 1995, Dr. Argenta and Lisa Renee David, MD, FACS, recognized that children who remained in one position while sleeping on their back developed skull deformities due to the mechanical force placed on the malleable neonatal skull. Drs. Argenta and David demonstrated that the resulting deformity could be corrected with helmet therapy rather than a surgical procedure because there was not a true bony fusion in the skull.

Dr. Argenta has published over 280 clinical articles and book chapters. He has trained numerous surgeons who have gone on to practice throughout the world, and he has delivered more than 500 presentations at national and international meetings.

Throughout his career, Dr. Argenta has received numerous awards, including the 2015 Wake Forest University Medallion of Merit Award, the 2013 American Association of Plastic Surgeons Achievement Award for Clinical Research, and the Plastic Surgery Foundation 2012 Outstanding Achievement in Basic and Translational Research Award, among many others.

Note to Editors: A photo of Dr. Argenta is available on request from the ACS Office of Public Information as of Monday, June 6. Email:

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About Louis C. Argenta, MD, FACS
Born in Detroit, Mich. to Italian immigrant parents, Louis C. Argenta studied zoology and chemistry earning a bachelor of science degree from the University of Michigan before going on to earn his medical doctorate (MD) at the University of Michigan School of Medicine. After a surgical internship at Michigan, Dr. Argenta served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, during which time he attained the rank of Lt. Commander. After three years of military service, Dr. Argenta returned to the University of Michigan where he completed a general surgery residency under the aegis of transplant surgeon Jeremiah Turcotte, MD, FACS, and a plastic surgery residency under William C. Grabb, MD, followed by a highly coveted craniofacial surgery fellowship working with Dr. Paul Tessier at Foch Hospital, Paris, France

Dr. Argenta returned to the U.S., serving on the University of Michigan surgical faculty for seven years, and rising to the rank of associate professor and interim head of the section of plastic surgery until 1988. He next accepted an invitation to establish a freestanding department of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Wake Forest University as professor and chairman. During his tenure at Wake Forest the department rapidly evolved into one of the leading programs in America. The clinical faculty was greatly expanded and has developed an international reputation for quality and innovation. Although Dr. Argenta stepped down from the position of Howell Professor and Chairman at Wake Forest in 2008, he continues to be academically active and devotes two days weekly to research and one month annually to overseas surgical work.

Dr. Argenta has been married to Ginger Argenta for 48 years. The have eight children, three of whom work in medicine. For the past 20 years they have traveled extensively with their children throughout the world and provided medical care to the medically underserved. The family has established and continues to support multiple hospitals, clinics and orphanages in developing nations.

About the American College of Surgeons
The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and improve the quality of care for all surgical patients. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 80,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world. For more information, visit

View a list of all Jacobson Innovation Award Recipients.

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