100 years since start of WWI – and surgical breakthroughs
This week marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, on 28 July 1914.
The Great War, as it was known, was a terrible conflict which caused the death of millions and is widely acknowledged to have been the first global war, with fighting taking place on several continents.
However, despite the tragic loss of life good did come of the war, since revolutionary breakthroughs in medicine and surgery were made during the war – laying the foundation for modern day plastic surgery procedures like breast enlargement, face lifts and rhinoplasty.
Widely considered to be the father of modern plastic surgery, Kiwi otolargyngologist Sir Harold Gillies spent the war working in London – which gave him the opportunity to develop many of the techniques used by modern day facial plastic surgeons.
Gillies cared for soldiers disfigured by shrapnel and was responsible for rebuilding many of their faces.
The war also gave doctors the opportunity to develop techniques for delivering blood transfusions and many other medical techniques which we now consider routine.