WWI: A Diamond in the Rough

August 23, 2006

WWI was the “war to end all wars” which didn’t exactly pan out as planned but it was the beginning of cosmetic plastic surgery. Millions of young men died and millions more returned home with horrific wounds. Fortunately for those soldiers with horribly disfiguring facial wounds there was a Dr. Harold Gillies, a surgeon who cared for not only function but aesthetics as well. He and his team operated on 1000’s of disfigured soldiers and pioneered some new surgical techinques focusing on cosmetic reconstruction. His primary breakthrough was the pedicle graph. Skin from the chest was cut but kept partially in tact and attached to the face. Once the new skin grew on the face it was unattached from the chest piece. This techinque insured that the graph would have its own blood supply and the fact that it was from the patients own body reduced the chance of it being rejected as a foreign invader. Well done Dr. Gillies.