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Better to Light a Candle: Arthur Barsky and Global Plastic Surgery

Hughes, Christopher D. MD, MPH*†; Barsky, Emily MD; Hagander, Lars MD*†§; Barsky, Arthur J. III MD; Meara, John G. MD, DMD, MBA*†

doi: 10.1097/SAP.0b013e31824b3dea
Circumspectus Medicinae: Texts and Contexts

Plastic and reconstructive surgery has had a long history with international humanitarian efforts. As the field of global surgery continues to gain momentum in academic centers throughout the world, the role of the surgical subspecialist in the public health infrastructure of low-resource communities has also begun to gain a new sense of wonder and importance. Arthur Barsky, Jr was arguably one of the most influential forefathers of global plastic surgery. Throughout his notable career spanning most of the 20th century, Barsky remained dedicated to delivering plastic and reconstructive surgical care to the disadvantaged worldwide, as well as educating others to do the same. Although he was not the first surgeon with an interest in global health, Barsky’s work was unique and influential in its originality, magnitude, and scope. An appreciation and understanding of Barsky’s groundbreaking work will help inform the future development of sustainable surgical systems in resource-poor settings.

From the *Department of Plastic and Oral Surgery, Children’s Hospital Boston; †Program in Global Surgery and Social Change, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA; ‡Department of Pediatrics, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA; §Department of Pediatric Surgery, Lund University Medical Faculty, Lund, Sweden; and ∥Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.

Received November 11, 2011, and accepted for publication, after revision, January 14, 2012.

Conflicts of interest and sources of funding: none declared. However, Emily Barsky, MD, and Arthur Barsky, MD, are the granddaughter and son of Arthur Barsky Jr, MD, respectively.

Reprints: Christopher D. Hughes, MD, MPH, Department of Plastic and Oral Surgery, Children’s Hospital Boston, 300 Longwood Ave, Enders 1, Boston, MA 02115. E-mail:

© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins