Origins of Plastic Surgery

Thanks to a colleague and friend, Dr. Landon McLain, for allowing us to share this information about the origins of plastic surgery.

Dr. McLain wrote about this graph found on National Geographic’s blog.

“This is fairly accurate but leaves out some important info. The famed Indian surgeon, Sushruta in fact, also vividly described eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) in striking detail and very similar to techniques used today.

Also, the origin of plastic surgery in the US is an interesting one… In 1917 the US entered WWI which was a war primarily fought “in the trenches” (origin of this term commonly used in American football).

This resulted in devastating head and neck injuries combined with increased survival due to the new steel helmets. As there were no “plastic surgeons” at the time, the SGO (Surgeon General’s Office) combined general surgeons and dentists/oral surgeons and created to first “plastic surgeons” to render the head and neck reconstructive procedures required to rehabilitate these unfortunate servicemen.

In fact, the first plastic surgery society in the US, now the American Association of Plastic Surgeons (AAPS) formed in 1921, required both a dental degree and medical degree for many years. The first president of the society, Dr. Truman Brophy had been originally trained as an oral surgeon.

Interestingly, the first Professor of Plastic Surgery at Harvard University, Dr. Varaztad Kazanjian was originally a dentist as well as the first editor of the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (PRS) journal Dr. Robert H Ivy. In many ways, plastic surgery owes its origins to the field of dentistry.”

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