Plastic surgery was apparently not created to fix breasts but to get wounded soldiers look the way they used to before fighting in World War I.

A book by H.M. Deranian tells the story of “Varaztad H. Kazanjian, who helped invent modern plastic surgery by finding creative ways to restore the faces of soldiers injured on the battlefields of World War I.”

An e-mail from NAASR has more:

Kazanjian was smuggled out of Ottoman Armenia in the 1890s and found his way to Worcester, Massachusetts, then one of the most ethnically diverse cities of its size in the United States. For several years, he worked at the Washburn & Moen wire mill that employed nearly one-third of the city’s Armenian community.

By the time World War I broke out, Kazanjian was chief of Harvard’s Prosthetic Dentistry Department, and had built both a thriving practice and a reputation for treating the most difficult cases. In 1915, Kazanjian accepted a three-month assignment with the Harvard Medical Unit to treat the wounded on the battlefields of France. Drawing on the dexterity with wire he had acquired as a teenager, his prosthetic work in Harvard’s dental lab, and his penchant for innovation, he devised new ways to reconstruct the faces of soldiers with horrendous facial injuries.

The publication of this book marks the 60th anniversary of the occasion when Martin Deranian, then a young dental student, introduced himself to Kazanjian. No matter how busy Deranian was-with his family, dental practice, teaching assignments, and community activities-he never stopped collecting stories, information, and artifacts about the life and career of the “miracle man.”

The author will talk about his book at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 14, 2007 at the NAASR Center, 395 Concord Ave., Belmont, MA.