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The term plastic surgery is derived from the Greek word 'plastikos', meaning to mould or shape.

While there are records of plastic surgery procedures as early as 300 AD, plastic and reconstructive surgery remained in its infancy as a surgical specialty until the First and Second World Wars when unprecedented numbers of soldiers sustained horrific and maiming injuries. Plastic surgery units were set up to treat severe burns, face and jaw injuries, gaping wounds and missing body parts.

Dunedin-born Sir Harold Gillies is widely considered to be the ‘father of plastic surgery’. Trained as an ear, nose and throat surgeon, he turned his considerable talent to skin grafts and reconstruction – especially facial reconstruction – and brought plastic surgery into mainstream medicine.