How severe injuries in the First World War led to pioneering medical techniques and the origins of facial reconstruction.

Article by Dr Andrew Bamji for Forces.net News

As a rheumatology trainee, specialising in the treatment of arthritis, I hardly expected to write a book about plastic surgery in the First World War and confront a forgotten area of medical history.

But my consultant appointment was at Queen Mary’s Hospital, Sidcup which, as I soon discovered, was very proud of its place as the seat of facial reconstruction.

My book was stimulated by the serendipitous discovery of the bulk of the case files, complete with operation details, photographs and paintings – a unique survival of wartime medical material.

This primary source was backed up by my acquisition for the hospital of an extensive library of period books, ranging from soldiers’ and nurses’ diaries to textbooks.

The book began as a resumé of the remarkable technical advances pioneered at Sidcup, and it was apparent that these resulted from the centralisation of facial surgery on one site.

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