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Douglas A. Taranow, DO, FACOS

New York, NY


Posted November 19, 2013 in Recovery

Although plastic surgery for strictly cosmetic purposes is a contemporary practice, plastic surgery for reconstructive purposes dates back to ancient times. An Egyptian medical text from 3000 BC mentions a procedure to repair a broken nose, reconstructive surgeries are documented in India from 800 BC, and in 1815 Joseph Constantine Carpue performed the first major rhinoplasty surgery in the Western world. These early procedures pioneered the way for more recent plastic surgery techniques, and Walter Yeo is considered the first person known to have benefited from advanced plastic surgery.

Yeo was a sailor in Britain’s Royal Navy during World War I, and he was injured at age 25 during the Battle of Jutland in 1916 while manning the guns on a battleship. Yeo suffered severe injuries in the midface, including the loss of his upper and lower eyelids. After being admitted to Plymouth Hospital, he was transferred to Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup in August of 1917. Sir Harold Gillies, who is considered the father of modern plastic surgery, opened the Queen Mary’s Hospital as a specialist ward for facial wound treatment, and he treated Yeo’s injuries with a new technique that he developed.

The operation Dr. Gillies performed on Yeo was a type of skin transplantation called a tubed pedicle flap, which gave him new eyelids with a graft of skin across his face and eyes that resembled a mask. This technique used a flap of full-thickness skin and subcutaneous tissue taken from an undamaged donor area and then transplanted it to the area needing tissue reconstruction. The skin flap was attached to the grafted site while it remained connected to the original donor site to allow for blood flow. Yeo was one of Gillies’ first patients to undergo this procedure, and his condition was improved with the new facial tissue, although his face remained disfigured. The technique that was used to repair Yeo’s injuries has been further developed to give us the methods of tissue transplantation that are used in plastic surgery today.

If you are considering plastic surgery for reconstructive or cosmetic needs, Dr. Taranow is available to help you achieve your goals. He is a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon in New York City, and patient satisfaction and safety are his highest priorities. For more information or to schedule your consultation, please call (212) 772-­2100 or fill out our online contact form today.