Plastic Surgery Organizes
The attempt by general surgeons to exclude otolaryngologists and to claim plastic surgery techniques for themselves dismayed regional surgeons who, after all, developed and used many of those techniques. Moreover, the proprietary attitude contrasted sharply with the spirit of open inquiry that had served patients so well during the war. At that time, there was no recognized specialty of plastic surgery, as evidenced by the staffing in the U.S. Surgeon General’s plastic surgery service. An orthopedic surgeon (Vilray P. Blair) ran the show, assisted by a general surgeon (Robert H. Ivy), while chief of plastic surgery at the federal government rehabilitative hospital was an otolaryngologist (Lee Cohen).
An even more diverse mix of specialties was represented among the surgeons who founded the American Board of Plastic Surgery in 1937. Representing otolaryngology was Gillies, who eventually was succeeded by his student Ferris Smith. To the disappointment of fellow otolaryngologists, Smith eventually adopted the attitude that came to characterize many ABPS diplomates. A notable exception was ABPS diplomate Richard C. Webster, who deplored the fact that, once “the plastic surgical board prescribed its method of training, many of these men tended to forget or dismiss the fact that they had acquired much of their skill in reconstructive or cosmetic surgery as members of their originating disciplines. Although it is understandable that this group developed pride in its achievements, many of its members began to believe or profess that the only way to do this was their way.” Webster’s beliefs led him to a life-long association with the AAFPRS, to which he was elected president in 1976.
Forward | The Father of Modern Facial Plastic Surgery | World War I | Plastic Surgery Organizes | Otolaryngologists Undeterred | More Courses, Study Groups | Facial Plastic Surgery Organizes | Education First | Recognition Next | Conclusion | Chronology of Subspecialty Development | AAFPRS Officers | Bibliography