“Plastic Surgery is a four dimension Specialty
in which the fourth dimension is time
” G. Sanvenero Rosselli
Origin and Training – Gustavo Sanvenero Rosselli was born on September 7, 1897 in Savona (Italian Riviera). His family had been lawyers by tradition. He graduated in Medicine at University of Genoa in 1921. Following the WWI, he began his career with Prof. Gavello, Director of the Otorhinolaryngological Clinic at the University of Turin
In 1926, he obtained a two-year fellowship to practice at the Clinique Internationale d’Otorhinolaryngologie et de Chirurgie Plastique de la Face directed by Prof. Fernand Lemaître (1880-1956). During that period of time he actively participated into the courses in facial plastic surgery organized by Fernand Lemaître, Eastman Sheehan (1885-1951) of Grand Rapids (U.S.A.) and Ferris Smith (1884-1956) of New York, where he received his formal training in this new surgical specialty. In 1928, he returned to Italy, and offered to work at the Padiglione Mutilati del Viso (Pavilion for Facial Cripples), a section of the Istituto Stomatologico Italiano, created for the treatment of the WW1 facially disfigured. The following year, he was appointed the Director of the Pavilion. Thus, the 1929, has to be considered the birth of Italian Plastic Surgery.
Surgical Activity – The Pavilion for Facial Cripples, located in via Commenda 19, Milano (now Center for Pain Management), although consisting of only 25 beds and two operating tables, soon became the pilot center of this new surgical specialty in Italy. The work at the clinic was quite varied, including reconstructive surgery of war injuries, treatment of burns, congenital malformations, reconstruction after malignancies, and facial traumas. Due to its growing recognition, the Pavilion had regularly at least two foreign residents in training from various European countries and from South America. It was visited by the most renowned personalities of the period, including the King of Italy Vittorio Emanuele III.
Scientific activity – Sanvenero Rosselli published more than 200 scientific works and two monographs: Chirurgia Plastica del Naso (1931) and Divisione Congenita del Labbro e del Palato (Cleft Lip and Palate) (1934), which includes the original description of the superiorly based pharyngeal flap for the treatment of velo-pharyngeal incompetence. In September 1938, Sanvenero Rosselli organized the 3rd Congress of the European Society of Reconstructive Surgery in Milano. One year later, in 1939, a new international journal of Plastic Surgery, Plastica Chirurgica (edited and conceived by Sanvenero) was published. Unfortunately, only three issues appeared. The war had soon broken up and the typography plant was bombed.
He was appointed the President of the Italian Society of Plastic Surgery from 1950 to 1971. In 1967, he organized the 4th International Congress of the IPRAS in Rome, with more than 3,000 delegates.
Academic activity – In 1953, the University of Turin established the first official training Program in Plastic Surgery (School of Specialization) at request of Prof. Achille M. Dogliotti, Director of the Surgical Clinic and 9 years later, in 1962, the first Chair of Plastic Surgery. Sanvenero was appointed the Director of both. In 1964, he became the Professor of Plastic Surgery at the University of Milano, and the Pavilion for Facial Cripples the Institute of Plastic Surgery of Milan University. He retired in 1972.
The Foundation – Sanvenero died in Milan on March 17th 1974, aged 77 years, as a result of cerebral tumor. Bibliophile and collector of rare books in Plastic Surgery, he was a Renaissance man, very talented with great cultural mind. He can rightly be considered the founder of the Italian Plastic Surgery. His name is now remembered by the Fondazione, established in 1975 by his nephew Riccardo Mazzola.
Pupils and fellows – Among his pupils, mention should be made of the following: Leopoldo Bosio, Domenico Rosselli, Giorgio Boggio Robutti, Franco Mussinelli, Ernesto Caronni, Franco Piotti, Giovanni Micali, Giuseppe Francesconi, Carlo Cavina, Alberto Azzolini, Luigi Donati, Franco Taveggia, Graziella Lupo, Luigi Fittipaldi, Riccardo Mazzola and numerous others. Many of them became renowned plastic surgeons. Sanvenero Rosselli trained numerous fellows coming from various European countries and from South America (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, etc.)