Graphic photos show World War One soldiers who underwent groundbreaking first plastic surgery procedures

Graphic photos show World War One soldiers who underwent groundbreaking first plastic surgery procedures

THESE shocking images show how ground-breaking cosmetic surgery was used to treat soldiers in the First World War.

Those who sustained severe facial injuries in battle were among the first to receive treatments like skin grafts in the 1910s.

In modern times we associate plastic surgery with nose-jobs, boob-jobs and Botox.

But, in the early 20th century cosmetic surgery was invented for totally different reasons.

It was a ground-breaking medical procedure which transformed the lives of the severely wounded.

And as these recently unearthed images show – the doctors who came up with the idea of reconstructive surgery were of huge benefit to the wounded.

World War One is arguably the most brutal and gruesome war that ever happened – with soldiers slogging it out in trenches contending with shelling, gun-fire and that’s before you consider the awful living conditions.


Unsurprisingly soldiers suffered horrendous injuries – with entire sections of their body being taken from them due to explosions and ammunitions being fired at them.

In particular, severe facial injuries inspired doctors to come up with a solution.

Sir Harold Gillies, a doctor from New Zealand became the first man to perform a skin graft in 1917.

A British sailor named Walter Yeo had been horribly burned in combat. His nose was shattered and his eyelids completely turn off.

Using skin from Yeo’s neck and upper chest, Gillies made a mask of skin that he transplanted across Yeo’s face.

This helped repair the damage that had been done, hiding his disfiguration and allowing him to close his eyes at night once more.

Yeo even returned to active duty and lived a long life after he was discharged back in his home town of Plymouth.

In England at the London’s King George Military Hospital they used the same technique on a great number of patients who had suffered ghastly injuries because of the Great War.

Dr Albert Norman photographed the patients as doctors did their best to hide the soldier’s hideous injuries by creating facial masks.

The masks would have given the soldiers hopes that their life could go on, even after going through hell.

The war, that lasted from 1914-1918, spurred on great advances in this area that led to plastic surgery as it is today – truly a world apart from the poor men seen in these images.

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