Every year, many medical missions are undertaken in the developing world but there is almost a universal lack of outcome data on the quality of these missions. The present study compares early clinical outcome and complication rate in two consecutive missions (facial reconstruction) undertaken to Ethiopia in 2007 and 2008. The object was to establish if measures adopted following feedback from the first mission led to improvement of the results. A significant improvement was observed in early clinical outcome and there were less severe complications in the 2008 compared to the 2007 mission. On both occasions, significantly more complications were experienced after complex compared to simple procedures. Despite improved outcome in 2008, 50% of the complex cases had an unfavourable clinical result. The data suggest that early outcome studies are a useful method of critically evaluating the quality of surgical mission. The unsatisfactory outcome of complex procedures underlines the need for feedback on the quality of these missions.