Varazdat Kazanjian – Founder of Plastic Surgery

Varazdat Kazanjian

The basis of modern plastic surgery was laid at the beginning of the 20th century, and the American-Armenian surgeon Varazdat Kazanjian is considered one of its key contributors.

Varazdat Kazanjian was born on March 18, 1879, in Erzincan (historical Western Armenia, now Turkey). At the age of 5, the boy witnessed the beginning of the Armenian Genocide with its terrible massacres and murders of the Armenian population during the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid.

Later, becoming an ardent fighter for the independence of Armenia, young Varazdat came to the attention of the Ottoman police and was forced to leave for the US.

After learning English, Kazanjian entered the Harvard School of Dental Medicine and in 1905 received the right to work as an assistant dentist. Having started an independent practice, Kazanjian decided to focus on conditions of the upper jaw. Soon, his patients began to spread information about Dr. Kazanjian, the “best specialist in the field of facial plastic surgery.”

In 1915, the French government addressed Harvard University with the request to select a group of orthopedists to work in France. Thus, Kazanjian ended up in southern France where he worked in a local hospital.

There, Kazanjian established a separate specialized clinic. In the following two years, he performed surgeries on about 2,5 thousand wounded individuals, receiving the nickname “Wunder-surgeon”. The French government awarded Kazanjian multiple state decorations, and King George V of England personally awarded him the Order of St. Michael and St. George.

Since 1925, Kazanjian has had his own course at Harvard, at the same time working as a visiting doctor in clinics of different states. As a professor, Kazanjian became the first scientist to receive a degree in plastic surgery from the Harvard Medical School and the first in the United States to publish books on plastic surgery.

In addition, Varazdat Kazanjian authored more than 700 scientific papers. His books have become pivotal for the practice of plastic surgery.

Varazdat Kazanjian died on October 19, 1974, in Belmont (Massachusetts, USA).

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