Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Plastic surgery history

Gizmodo has an article on the pilots who had plastic surgery to reconstruct their burned faces in World War II. Mr.McIndoe is the surgeon who pioneered aggressive facial reconstruction.

It was one of the first efforts to focus on both the physical and the psychological recovery of patients. Before then, people with disfiguring injuries or disabilities were often hidden from sight. Instead of casting the burned pilots and crew as unfortunate young men with their lives cut short, McIndoe presented them as heroes to be lauded for their courage. If a play was opening or a movie premiering in town, McIndoe got his patients invited as guests of honor.
And it worked. Grinstead, where the hospital was based, became known as “the town that did not stare.” A number of the club members married women they met in the town while recuperating.
Years ago, I met an American pilot with a terribly scarred face whose scars were not noticed two minutes after you started talking to him. The rehab that encouraged normalization was as important as the surgery itself.

read the whole thing.

includes photos that look grotesque, but actually taking tubes of skin from the arm etc. to repair the face is an ancient practice.

You should know that in the UK, surgeons used to be called "Mister"'s an old custom because in the good old days, unlike physicians, who studied at universities , surgeons were (lower class) barber-surgeons, and to become a surgeon you did an apprenticeship, not university training, hence the "mister".

Richard Hillary was one of the pilots whose face was reconstructed by McIndoe, and his autobiography is a classic story of young men (should I say spoiled young men from Oxford?) who went to war and how the war changed them.

The most frightening part of this to me was not the war, or the surgery: It was that the wounds got infected, and there was no penicillin in those day. A reminder of what could happen as the world faces MRSA and VRSA, Staph Aureus resistant to antibiotics.

I had a hard copy of the book, but lent it to my son in law John, a helicopter pilot, who asked to "borrow" it. Never mind. The ebook is on line:

It can be found at ProjectGutenberg Australia LINK

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