Walter Yeo, a British sailor during World War I, is often cited as the first known person to have benefited from plastic surgery.
Walter sustained terrible facial injuries, including the loss of his upper and lower eyelids, while manning the guns aboard the HMS Warspite in 1916 during the Battle of Jutland.
In 1917 he was treated by Sir Harold Gillies, the first man to use skin grafts from undamaged areas on the body, also known as “the father of plastic surgery.” The London-based Gillies opened a specialist ward for the treatment of the facially-wounded at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup, Kent. Walter Yeo is one of the first patients to benefit from his newly-developed technique, a form of skin grafting called “tubed pedical.”
The young sailor from Plymouth, Devon was given new eyelids with a “mask” of skin grafted across his face and eyes. (Source 1 | Source 2)