Plastic Surgery, Born In The Trenches
The phrase “plastic surgery” may evoke different connotations for different people. For many, what’s conjured is a procedure done for cosmetic purposes, something likely not deemed medically necessary, and probably not covered by insurance.
But the history of plastic surgery goes back to a time where facial reconstruction was often a matter of life and death. The practice got its start on the gritty, European battlefields of World War I, where surgeons and nurses had to learn fast to fix the often horrific facial injuries sustained in battle. For the men with these injuries, the innovative, often traumatic procedures were life-changing.
No matter the reason, the decision to get plastic surgery is very personal, and reflects a desire to change something about one’s appearance. The World War I history of plastic surgery, and how it set the stage for today’s uses, is the subject of the new book The Facemaker: A Visionary Surgeon’s Battle to Mend the Disfigured Soldiers of World War I, written by medical historian and author Lindsey Fitzharris. Lindsey joins guest host John Dankosky from Washington, D.C.
Read an excerpt of The Facemaker: A Visionary Surgeon’s Battle to Mend the Disfigured Soldiers of World War I by Lindsey Fitzharris.
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Lindsey Fitzharris is a medical historian and author of The Facemaker.
The transcript is being processed. It will be available the week after the segment airs.
Kathleen Davis is a producer at Science Friday, which means she spends the week brainstorming, researching, and writing, typically in that order. She’s a big fan of stories related to strange animal facts and dystopian technology.
John Dankosky works with the radio team to create our weekly show, and is helping to build our State of Science Reporting Network. He’s also been a long-time guest host on Science Friday. He and his wife have four cats, thousands of bees, and a yoga studio in the sleepy Northwest hills of Connecticut.