Broken Faces: the history of aesthetic surgery

Aesthetic surgery has been developed throughout history through the progress and improvement in rigorous and specialized techniques… World War I saw a real turning point in plastic surgery. Particularly destructive for the soldiers on the front line, reconstructive surgery, in particular maxillofacial, was developed to repair the mutilations suffered by the servicemen.


The origins of aesthetic surgery: a new face for the broken faces

1914, year zero of aesthetic face surgery: the wounded faces and bodies of the broken faces really marked the Great War with 15 000 soldiers affected by severe facial injuries. Confronted with these disfigured fighters, exceptional surgeons rallied and developed a very specific approach to help these disfigured servicemen. These physicians were able to use their varying expertise to repair, even entirely recreate new faces. Jaw fractures, shrapnel wounds, tissue loss, but also skin, muscles, bone… the wounds were such that the practitioners, whatever their specialty, had to innovate to reconstruct.

Alongside Dr. Morestin, a specialist in maxillofacial surgery and an exceptional surgeon, Suzanne Noël rapidly learned and perfected the delicate techniques of reconstructive surgery. She saw in this specialty a means of helping the soldiers traumatized physically and thus radically changing their lives.

Very quickly fascinated by this field, Doctor Suzanne Noël developed and broadened her knowledge and skills. She used the knowledge she acquired from Dr Morestin in particular who taught her the techniques of reconstructive and corrective surgery.

However, she who was the 1st woman to repair faces did not stop there: she imagined new faces. With the help of ingenious mechanisms, transplants never attempted, she used instruments, screws, parts of the scalp, skin grafts, and bone or cartilage grafts to recreate tissue. Not only did she manage to give those we call the broken faces a new face but she initiated what we will later call plastic surgery that uses both reconstruction and aesthetics; there was no question of her using a false nose or grotesque masks. Through audacious, innovative, and extremely delicate techniques she dared restore a human identity. Some faces, once mangled, were left with just a scar.

Thus Doctor Suzanne Noël achieved excellent results at a time when facial reconstructive surgery was almost inexistent. She was also able to perfect this field through the development of aesthetic surgery techniques. Throughout her life, she expanded her activities and reshaped other parts of the body: breasts, thighs, abdomen, legs… She thus invented new techniques and tools still used today such as craniometers and gauges. A genuine pioneer of aesthetic surgery, she received the Legion of Honor in 1928.


Reconstructive surgery: reshape, repair, recreate

Reconstruction is a cutting-edge surgical discipline requiring extensive knowledge of the anatomy.

Firstly, the surgeon must strive to reconstruct step by step the face or the body of the patient. They seek not only to achieve a functional result but also to fill the missing volume and clean the flesh.

Insertion of implants, reshaping the dome of the skull and the cartilage, treatment of fractures, revascularization, transfer of fat or muscle, bone implants and grafts, displacement of flaps using microsurgery… Each step in the reconstruction helps meticulously recreate the face or body of the patient. Several operations are often necessary to obtain a satisfactory result from a morphological and functional perspective to then work on the aesthetics.


Reconstructive surgery, much more than just simply repairing the body

Once the face or body has been repaired, the specialist surgeon will also seek to achieve the most natural and harmonious result possible using rigorous and particularly meticulous aesthetic surgery techniques. Indeed, they will first and foremost imagine the part of the body or face to be reconstructed to be able to restore aesthetic balance depending on the physical characteristics of the patient but also their desires.

Consistency, balancing and restoring volume with lipofilling, promoting healing… Thanks to aesthetics, the surgeon participates in the complete rehabilitation of the patient and mitigates the emotional impact, thus helping the patient to accept their new appearance. Unique know-how requiring in-depth knowledge of the anatomy and aesthetics.

In all logic, techniques and tools in reconstructive and aesthetic surgery thus progress simultaneously, each complementing the other thus ensuring the patient receives rehabilitation and personalized support.

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