During World War I, over 21 million soldiers were injured. The injuries tended to be far more severe than in previous conflicts, due to the advancement of military weaponry. There were also more facial injuries due to fighting with trench warfare, which exposed the head to gunfire.

There was suddenly a great need for reconstructive surgeons. The specialties of otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat), oral and maxillofacial surgery, general surgery and dentistry pooled their expertise to treat the unfortunate soldiers. The new specialty, Plastic Surgery, was named after the Greek word “plastikos” meaning “to mold, or form.”