Who and what have been the most influential innovators and innovations in plastic surgery? This historical paper attempts to determine our most important contributors and contributions.Methods
We conducted an anonymous, 7-question, web-based survey of all members of the American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons (ACAPS) and the Southeastern Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons (SESPRS). We asked respondents to list their top 5 most influential surgeons, the most important publications or bodies of work, and the most important innovations in plastic surgery, past and present.Results
Of the 86 nominees from ACAPS, the 15 most influential surgeons of the past century were Tessier, Buncke, Murray, Millard, Gillies, Mathes, Jurkiewicz, Taylor, Converse, Blair, Kleinert, Edgerton, McCraw, Peacock, and Brown, in that order. The most 10 influential surgeons of the current era are Rohrich, McCarthy, Wei, Lee, Siemionow, Allen, Coleman, Guyuron, Serletti, and Nahai. Of the 112 nominees from SESPRS, the 15 most influential surgeons of the past century were Gillies, Millard, Tessier, Buncke, Murray, Jurkiewicz, Hartrampf, Mathes, Taylor, Bostwick, McCraw, Furlow, Converse, Peacock, and Blair, in that order. The 10 most influential surgeons of the current era are Rohrich, Nahai, Wei, McCarthy, Coleman, MacKinnon, McGrath, Rubin, Guyuron, and Hammond. Pooled from both lists, the 10 most influential publications or bodies of work were Hartrampf’s TRAM flap, Millard’s cleft lip repair, McCraw/Mathes/Nahai’s myocutaneous flaps, Furlow’s cleft palate repair, Tessier’s cleft classification and craniofacial repairs, Ramirez’s components separation, Buncke’s replantation/toe-to-thumb transfer, McCarthy’s mandibular distraction osteogenesis, Taylor’s free flap and angiosome concepts, and Murray’s kidney transplant. The top 10 innovations of the 20th century were myocutaneous flaps, microsurgery, craniofacial surgery, skin grafts, transplantation, liposuction, bioimplants, distraction osteogenesis, angiosome anatomy, and rigid fixation. The 10 most important, current innovations are hand/face transplantation, fat grafting, stem cells, neurotoxins and soft-tissue fillers, biologic scaffolds, information technology, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, negative pressure wound therapy, perforator flaps, and noninvasive imaging.Conclusion
Plastic surgery includes a rich history of both incremental and disruptive innovation, which has endowed our discipline with a competitive advantage over other medical and surgical subspecialties. Based upon our past success in managing change, there may be no limit, or no line on the horizon, as to what is possible, provided that we pursue innovation in a systematic way that combines creativity and discipline.