Plastic Surgery History
When World War I ended in 1918, Plastic Surgery was a little known surgical specialty. Besides a few physicians who treated soldiers suffering from battlefield wounds and burns, and a few surgeons in Europe who performed cosmetic procedures, Plastic Surgeons were a small number.
Shortly after the war, Dr. Robert H. Ivy began a Plastic Surgery practice and a training program in Plastic Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania. At that time, Dr. Ivy was one of the best known and revered Plastic Surgeons in the United States. He restricted his practice to Plastic Surgery, and perhaps was first in the country to do so.
He worked mainly at the Graduate Hospital, then home of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Medicine, and at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Presbyterian Hospital, affiliates of the University Medical School. With his unique appointment as Professor of Plastic Surgery, he was able to begin Penn’s first preceptorship training program.
During World War II, Plastic Surgery was becoming a better known specialty because of the reconstructive surgery performed for injured and burned fighting men. Dr. Henry P. Royster served in India and Burma with the University of Pennsylvania Base Hospital. When he returned to Philadelphia, he was appointed Chief of Plastic Surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. With Dr. Ivy still practicing at Graduate Hospital and Presbyterian Hospital, Plastic Surgery was becoming a presence in Philadelphia medicine.
In 1953, Dr. Peter Randall joined Dr. Royster, and together they constructed a new Plastic Surgery residency training program at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. In 1957, its first year, the program trained only one resident in the two-year program. Gradually, the program grew to three residents a year in a two year program, now two per year in a three year program.
In 1969, Dr. Herndon B. Lehr, the very first Plastic Surgery resident, became Chief of the Division, and was followed in 1979 by Dr. Peter Randall. Eight years later, in 1987, Dr. Linton A. Whitaker became Chief. As early as 1975, Dr. Whitaker, as one of the few Plastic Surgeons in the United States specializing in the developing field of craniofacial surgery, instituted a Fellowship in Craniofacial Surgery. This program was followed by a Craniofacial Research Fellowship started in 1997.
One hundred Plastic Surgery residents have completed the residency training program, ten of whom presently run, or have run, a residency training program. Twenty-eight fellows completed the craniofacial fellowship, four of whom run, or have run, training programs. Today, the Plastic Surgery residency program accepts two residents each year for three years of training, and the Craniofacial Fellowship is one year in length after plastic surgery training. Residents rotate through five additional affiliated hospitals.
At present, there are seven full time Plastic Surgeons practicing at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center. All do research and are active in national and international Plastic Surgery organizations and programs for Plastic Surgery in developing countries.