This blog contains images of injury some readers might find upsetting.
Before the First World War, plastic surgery was rarely practiced as a specialist area of study; in most circumstances, work was undertaken by whatever surgeon or specialist received the case.
The rise in the number of face mutilations from the Battle of the Somme onwards, as well as improvements in asepsis and general anaesthesia, encouraged the development of a separate medical speciality treating all kinds of superficial mutilation.
The person most linked to facial reconstruction in the First World War is Harold Gillies. Born in New Zealand, he studied medicine at Cambridge and qualified as a surgeon in the UK.
After heading to France to serve in the war with the Royal Army Medical Corps, Gillies met Charles Auguste Valadier, a dentist who was enthusiastic in trying to replace jaws which had been destroyed by gunshot wounds. It was then that he turned his attentions to plastic surgery of the face. Continue reading »