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July 13, 2022

A Hundred Years Later, the Legacy of Milton Edgerton, MD, Prevails

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Plastic Surgery, University of Virginia, Charlottesville
JAMA Surg. 2022;157(10):865-866. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2022.1829

The establishment of any field is preceded by people who conceive the foundation and those who strive for advancement, and Milton Edgerton, MD, happened to do both for the field of plastic surgery. Dr Edgerton was born a little more than 100 years ago, on July 14, 1921, but the effect of the legacy he left behind will surely span generations to come.1 Edgerton was one of the original founders of plastic surgery, an idea that was conceived with other young surgeons at Valley Forge Hospital in World War II, and his contributions to the field included advances in craniofacial surgery as well as surgical innovations for transgender patients. Dr Edgerton may have performed physical surgery, but he brought psychological peace to many.1,2 In this way, he served as an early ally to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people, responsible for an increasing acceptance of transgender patients. It was ultimately the rare combination of innovation, collaborative spirit, and unrelenting compassion that allowed Edgerton to become the standout surgeon that he was.

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