Sir Harold Delf Gillies, the otolaryngologist and father of modern facial plastic surgery: review of his rhinoplasty case notes

J Laryngol Otol. 2015 Jun;129(6):520-8. doi: 10.1017/S0022215115000754. Epub 2015 Apr 10.


Background: Sir Harold Gillies, born in New Zealand, is widely considered a British icon and the father of modern plastic surgery.

Objective: This article provides an overview of his life and the circumstances which led to him laying the foundations of plastic surgery in Britain in the early twentieth century.

Methods: A hand search and review of case notes from the Gillies Archives at Queen Mary's Hospital in Sidcup, UK, where he made history, was conducted.

Results and conclusion: Gillies' ongoing legacy was found to also include his influence on the development of his cousin Sir Archibald McIndoe's work. Gillies was a talented sportsman who engaged in charitable activities. Additionally, he was a gifted teacher, with his hospital attracting many young surgeons from around the world. He was found to have expressed genius in both the design and execution of the art and science of surgery. He incepted reconstructive techniques ranging from the world's first gender reassignment operation to facial reanimation procedures for the treatment of facial paralysis. His operative work on ex-servicemen in need of complex rhinoplasty and in particular the inception of the tubed pedicle flap are depicted.

Keywords: Facial Injuries; History of Medicine; Multidisciplinary Communication; Plastic Surgery; Reconstructive Surgical Procedure; Rhinoplasty.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Otolaryngology / history*
  • Rhinoplasty / history*
  • Rhytidoplasty / history*
  • Surgeons / history*
  • Surgery, Plastic / history*
  • United Kingdom

Personal name as subject

  • Harold Delf Gillies