American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Medical Professionals

History of ASPS

How a pioneering organization & specialty took shape

Plastic surgery may be one of the world's oldest healing arts. Learn about this pioneering specialty, and the history of ASPS and The Plastic Surgery Foundation.

The 1950s

With board certification and its own scientific journal, plastic surgery was fully integrated into the medical establishment by 1950. It next moved into the public consciousness.

Improving Communications with the Public

In a foreshadowing of a concern that would reemerge 44 years later, ASPS President Leon Sutton, MD, called for better communication with the public, during the 1950 annual meeting as President Harry Truman was pushing a national health care plan. Answering the call of Dr. Sutton, plastic surgeons began to appear on a new medium – television.

New Innovations

There was much good news to report to the American people in those post-war days. As with other areas of science and medicine, plastic surgery discoveries were happening at a break-neck pace, often derived from innovations tested in the rear-area hospitals of Korea. Internal wiring for facial fractures, rotation flaps for skin deformities and a bevy of other new techniques were developed by plastic surgeons in the 1950s.

A Nobel Laureate

In the 1950s, ASPS member Joseph Murray, MD, of Boston, performed the first successful kidney transplant, an achievement that would later earn him the Nobel Prize in the 1990s.


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