Professor Hugo Obwegeser, a giant in the field of oral and maxillofacial surgery, passed away last week in Switzerland at the age of 96. The funeral will be in his hometown of Schwerzenbach (Zurich) on September 13, 2017.
Known by many as the father of orthognathic surgery, Professor Obwegeser first described the bilateral sagittal split osteotomy in 1955 (in German) and was the first surgeon to describe simultaneous maxillary and mandibular repositioning using the Le Fort I osteotomy and bilateral sagittal split osteotomy.
There is perhaps no greater event in North American oral and maxillofacial surgery history than that of Professor Obewegeser’s visit to Walter Reed Hospital in 1966, during which he presented to a spellbound audience the modern techniques of orthognathic surgery. For the next 40 years, the surgical correction of dentofacial deformities captured the energy and industry of surgeons throughout the world and led, in part, to an evolution in scope of practice, from oral surgery to that of oral and maxillofacial surgery. In 2011 it was my honor and privilege to serve as the scientific chair for the 32nd ACOMS Annual Meeting, which was dedicated to Professor Obwegeser. The attendees at this meeting felt honored to be in his presence. The dedication was a well-deserved tribute to a pioneer who developed the contemporary model to correct dentofacial deformities and was, throughout his long and purposeful life, a champion of our great specialty.
The world has lost a leader in our field but we are greater for having benefitted from his achievements.
R. Bryan Bell, DDS, MD, FACS
American College of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons