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Sidcup, Kent: Reconstructive Surgery

Where soldiers with terrible facial injuries received pioneering reconstructive surgery

In August 1917, Frognal House in Sidcup opened its doors to a handful of men returning from war with awful facial injuries.
From then until 1925, over 11,000 operations were carried out on 5,000 soldiers, quickly becoming the army’s main centre for reconstructive surgery.

The driving force at Frognal House was Dr Harold Gillies, who completely revolutionised plastic surgery in its early years.

The surgeons would learn from each other, evolving their way in this new field of medicine. Often two operations would be carried out simultaneously in theatre. If Gillies and his team were pioneers on the operating table, they were also breaking new ground in other areas. An important part of the treatment at the hospital was sensitive rehabilitation.

Considerable thought was given as to what men with disfiguring injuries could do with their lives after the war. For the men who came to Sidcup, it was nothing less than a second chance at life.

Location: Frognal House, Sidcup, Kent DA14 6LF
Photo shows an early plastic surgery operation, 1916. Image: IWM/Getty
Presented by Maggie Doyle

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