Pictures of WWI plastic surgery released

July 26, 2012

Pictures of WWI plastic surgeries released
Pictures of WWI plastic surgeries released

While those considering plastic surgery today are used to viewing before and after photographs of patients who have had similar procedures, descendants of some World War I vets are getting a chance to view some pictures of early procedures performed by a pioneering British plastic surgeon.

According to the Telegraph, the surgical records of Dr. Harold Gillies, who performed some of the world's first plastic surgery procedures and skin grafts during the Great War, have been placed online. Gillies performed some 11,000 plastic surgery at The Queen's Hospital in Sidcup, Kent, on more than 2,300 soldiers who were disfigured during battles between 1917 and 1925.

The records are available on the website FindMyPast.co.uk. In addition to amazing before and after photographs, the records also include information on the soldiers, such as their names, regiments and ranks.

"These records are an important source of information for historians, the medical world and those interested in learning about the reality and aftermath of World War I," FindMyPast.co.uk's Debra Chatfield said in a news release. "The medical world owes a great deal to Dr Gillies, as do those who were treated by him in the early twentieth century and anyone who has ever received plastic surgery treatment since then. Without his pioneering developments in this field, plastic surgery might not be as advanced as it is today."

The records are not available for viewing by the general public because of their personal nature. However, anyone who believes one of their family members was treated by Dr. Gillies can view them online.

Gillies, who would have been 130 years old this year, is known as one of the fathers of modern plastic surgery. He was knighted in 1930 because of his contributions to the medical world.

"[He developed] innovative procedures to help reconstruct the faces of badly injured soldiers and airmen, whose facial injuries were caused by bullet wounds and flying shrapnel and needed extensive bone, muscle and skin grafting to restore their appearance," Dr. Sam Alberti, Director of Museums & Archives at the Royal College of Surgeons, said in a news release. "Most notably, Gillies introduced the tubed pedicle which used the patients' own tissue to aid reconstructive surgery and reduce the chance of rejection. The files associated with his work are an unparalleled resource for the study of this important branch of medicine and family history."


The mission of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) includes medical education, public education and patient advocacy. Plastic Surgery News Briefs are summaries of current stories found through various news and magazine outlets that relate to or mention plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. The views expressed in these news articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASAPS, but are merely published as an educational service to our members and the general public. For additional information on these subjects and other plastic surgery related topics, please go to www.surgery.org

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The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world’s leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body.  ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; active members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and non-surgical aesthetic procedures. International active members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.

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