ASMS Members Corner
ASMS: The American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons
ASMS: The American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons

Leaders in the Education, Art, and
Science of Facial Reconstruction

Celebrating Our Proud Heritage – 75th Anniversary of the ASMS

This year, we celebrate the 75th anniversary (1947-2022) of the American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons (ASMS). The need for a society focused on not only soft tissue but also injury involving the maxillofacial skeleton became apparent soon after the start of World War I (1911-1918). With advancing weapon technology in the setting of trench warfare, large volumes of survivable maxillofacial injuries necessitated the search for more effective treatments and thus, the formation of specialized maxillofacial units in Europe and the United States. [1] Maxillofacial injuries have two distinguishing features that when combined are unique among military injuries: survivability, yet severe disfigurements that dressings or clothing alone cannot hide. Maxillofacial units known as “Jaw Wards” (the colloquial name for inpatient units caring for soldiers with maxillofacial injuries), or by the French term “gueules cassées“, or “broken mouths” were established to address this unmet patient need. It is not surprising therefore, that the first name of a professional organization of surgeons dedicated to maxillofacial care in 1921 in the U S was the “American Association of Oral Surgeons”. After accepting a motion made by Dr. Robert H. Ivy, the name was changed to the “American Association of Oral and Plastic Surgeons” circa 1933, and in 1942, it changed again to its current name, “American Association of Plastic Surgeons”, removing the word “Oral”. Feeling the need “…to unite dedicated Maxillofacial Surgeons into a singular, medical society for the recognition and advancement [of maxillofacial surgery]…” a group of twenty surgeons led by Dr. Carl Waldron and Casper Epsteen formed “American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons” in 1947, holding its first meeting on February 13 of that year, in Chicago. [2]

A century ago in the “Jaw Wards” of Aldershot, U K; Val De Grace, France; St. Louis, Missouri; Cape May, New Jersey – the physical and psychological impacts suffered by these young soldiers were enormous and unrelenting. “Universally, the men in the jaw wards were sequestered from other patients so as not to bring down morale; they weren’t even permitted to see their own reflection until the surgeons felt they could bear it”, writes K. Akey of George Washington University. [3] Today, we no longer have such practices of sequestration and the care for maxillofacial injuries has improved greatly, from 3-D imaging to open anatomic reduction with rigid internal fixation, and from vascularized autogenous flaps and grafts, to intra-operative navigation, virtual surgical planning, and face transplantation. [4] Throughout these 75 years, the central theme that underpins ASMS continues to be education, as stated in our motto “Leaders in the Education, Art, and Science of Facial Reconstruction”.

We commemorate this landmark occasion by increasing the awareness of craniomaxillofacial surgery by further strengthening of the educational programs, through our premier journal FACE, quarterly webinars, craniofacial syllabus, in person and online technique courses, public advocacies, and special liaison groups with our military services. Many early members of ASMS were officers in the military, many current members have been and some still are in active service. The photographs below show our proud past, present, and future members. When asked by a young plastic surgery resident the reason to join ASMS, “Mentorship, friendship, scholarship, fellowship, and leadership” was the resounding reply.

Last 75 years, though without challenges and conflicts, has been largely peaceful and prosperous. While it is hard to forecast what our world would look like when ASMS celebrates its centennial anniversary in 2047, ASMS will continue to advance and advocate for excellence and education in maxillofacial surgery.

Jack C. Yu, DMD, MD
President, ASMS
Anand Kumar, MD
Secretary, ASMS
Alexander Y. Lin, MD
Historian, ASMS

Varaztad H. Kazanjian, MD

Linton A. Whitaker, MD

Dr. Raymond Harshbarger

Anand Kumar, MD

Kerry P. Latham , MD


  1. Davis JS. Plastic surgery in world war I and in world war II. Annals of surgery. 1946 Apr;123(4):610.
  2. Cohen SR, Crawley WA, Jacobs JS, Juhal CA, and Manson PN. The American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons Published by Walsworth Publishing Company, Marceline, Missouri 1997. Page 5
  3. Akey K. HIDDEN FACES OF WW1: MAXILLOFACIAL PORTRAITS PRESERVED. National Library of Medicine. August, 2018
  4. Fearon, Jeffrey A. M.D.; Hollier, Larry H. M.D. Craniofacial and Pediatric Plastic Surgery: Looking Back Over the Past 75 Years, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: August 2021 - Volume 148 - Issue 2 - p 483-487 doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000008204

© 2023 The American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons | All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy       Twitter @Facialartists