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Paul Tessier, Creator of a New Surgical Specialty, is Recipient of Jacobson Innovation Award

Wolf, S. Anthony MD, FACS

Journal of Craniofacial Surgery: January 2001 - Volume 12 - Issue 1 - p 98-99
Special Honors

Miami, Florida

Paul Tessier, MD, FACS (Honorary), is the recipient of the Jacobson Innovation Award of the American College of Surgeons for the year 2000 (Figure 1). The purpose of this award is to honor living surgeons, or surgical teams, who have been innovators of a new development or technique in any field of surgery. The award is made possible through a gift from Julius H. Jacobson II, MD, FACS, a general vascular surgeon known for his pioneering work in the development of microsurgery. The award was presented to Dr. Tessier at the Jacobson Innovation Award Dinner on June 9, 2000, at the Wyndham Chicago Hotel.

Fig. 1.

Fig. 1.

Dr. Tessier, who currently resides in Boulogne, France, attended medical school at the Ecole de Medicine in Nantes, France, and received his Doctor of Medicine from the Faculte de Medecine de Paris in 1943. From 1939 until 1941, Dr. Tessier was in military service, the last year of which he spent as a prisoner of war in a German military hospital.

In 1942, Dr. Tessier interned with a general surgeon who operated on cleft lip and Dupuytren's contracture. He continued his work in the surgical profession by going to Paris and joining the pediatric surgery service at Hospital St. Joseph in 1944. Later that year, while Paris was still under occupation by Germany, Dr. Tessier became an assistatnt to the Center of Maxillo-Facial Surgery of the Military Region of Paris in Hospital Puteaux where he remained until 1946. In 1947, the hospital's administration was transferred to Hospital Foch (Paris), and 2 years later, Dr. Hessier became involved in plastic surgery and burn care. In 1949, he returned to Nantes where he became a surgical consultant in ophthalmology.

In the mid 1950's, Dr. Tessier began innovative work on finding a way to perform osteotomies to correct congenital midfacial retrusion without the relapse which plagued the performance of the procedure years before by one of his mentors, Sir Harold Gillies. In 1958, he began his initial clinical pratice of the overhauled procedure. In discovering the need for bone grafts to fill gaps in the bone that could potentially jeopardize the adjustments made during the procedure, Dr. Tessier started the surgical specialty which he is being honored for creating—cranofacial surgery.

Within 3 years, Dr. Tessier had improved on his initial work by providing exposure for much of the procedure through a coronal approach, he had begun to section the arch rather than the body of the zygoma, and he placed bone grafts in the pterygomaxillary gap, all of which gave added stability to the midface segment without requiring an external headframe. In 1967, he performed a number of demonstration procedures for his peers and asked for their vote on whether this new specialty had a place in the practice of surgery. The positive response launched craniofacial surgery into the profession.

During the late 1960's and the 1970's, Dr. Tessier developed all of the procedures that are currently used in performing craniofacial surgery: transcranial and subcranial correction of orbital dystopias such as orbital hypertelorism, correction of the facial deformity of Teacher Collins Franceschetti syndrome, and correction of oro-ocular clefts. Also, in the 1970's, Dr. Tessier began traveling to the U.S. in order to demonstrate the procedures in cities such as Philadelphia, Chicago, Houston, Boston, and Norfolk.

The impact of Dr. Tessier's work has affected many surgical specialties, including plastic surgery, otorhinolaryngology, ophthalmology, neurosurgery, trauma surgery, and oral and maxillofacial surgery. Many of his techniques have found significant places in the performance of plastic surgery, where Dr. Tessier's methods of outogenous bone grafts have often been seen as an improvement over the traditional use of silicone or acrylic. He also coined the term “SMAS” and created the subperiosteal facelift, or “masklift.” Dr. Tessier's work is so far reaching that virtually everyone performing procedures of the craniofacial specialty were either trained by Dr. Tessier himself, or by surgeons he trained.

Because of his work, Dr. Tessier is a founding member of the International Society of Craniofacial Surgery and the European Association of Maxillo-Facial Surgeons, and has been honored many times, including receiving honorary memberships in the American College of Surgeons, the Royal College of Surgeons (London), and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. In addition, he has been given an honorary degree from Lund University in Sweden.

Since its founding in 1994, the Jacobson Innovation Award—administered by the Honors Committee of the American College of Surgeons—has been awarded to six prestigious surgeons, including Dr. Tessier. Original thought combined with the first presentation of work that has led to a milestone in the advancement of surgical care is the main criterion for choosing a recipient of the Jacobson Innovation Award.

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