Birth of Plastic Surgery Department and the early formative years
(1970 - 1978)

Finally, with the help of the Director of Development, Tan Sri Datuk Dr Haji Majid small, he was given a Hospital Attendant and a garage and officially conducted the first plastic surgery clinic under the roof of the Orthopaedic Department on 1 3 July 1970. Thus, from that day on, he began to devote his whole time entirely to the practice of plastic surgery The weekly operating session allotted for plastic surgery was quickly proven inadequate and he ended up operating almost daily utilising general surgical and orthopaedic operating time. Patients were accommodated in the orthopaedic, surgical and also the radiotherapy wards, where most of the oral cancer patients stayed. The Combined Oral Cancer clinic was regularly attended by plastic surgeon, radiotherapist, dental surgeon and oral pathologist. The Combined Cleft lip and palate clinic was conducted by the team comprising plastic surgeon, dental surgeon and orthodontist. The plethora of deformed leprosy patients in Sungai Buluh Hospital provided an immensely rich pool of reconstructive work which were carried out in the weekly clinic and operating session there. The earliest recorded reconstructive hand surgery in the form of tendon transfers were performed in the leprosarium. Facelifts for the leonine facies were a bonus.


With this framework of activities firmly established, availability of plastic surgical services gained prominence and a bid was made by Dr S Kandiah to set up a department distinctly separate from the Department of Surgery. This he fought very hard for as he firmly believed that was the only way plastic surgical services could be developed in this country. With the expansion and development of KL General Hospital, he was rewarded with a new department in May 1974. Thus, the first and only Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Department in the country was established. From the Orthopaedic Department, facilities were shifted to the new modern plastic and reconstructive clinic complete with a minor operating theatre. Bed space was provided for in the neurosurgical ward while operating facilities and theatre nursing help continued to be derived from the Orthopaedic Department.


With the department in order, development and expansion of plastic surgery services was greatly accelerated. Dr S Kandiah identified and helped to train the next generation of plastic surgeons, first Dr Lal Kumar, then Dr V Surendranathan and Dr Yusof bin Said. Ancillary staff were also trained, a record system was established and overseas links were maintained during the early years.


Operation Plastic Surgery in the East coast (Operasi pembedahan pelastik pantai timur), a programme that was started in 1974 by Dr S Kandiah was aimed at decreasing the heavy workload in KL General Hospital. While enabling the local general surgeons to perform basic plastic and reconstructive surgical procedures it also avoided the inconvenience and expense for the local community which would have been incurred had they made trips to KLGH. The plastic surgeon with one of the consultant radiotherapists and a consultant stomatologist visited the coastal towns of Kuntan, Kuala Terengganu and Kota Bahru for a period of ten to twelve days, twice a year. Subsequent projects included forays into the northern and southern states with the availability of more plastic surgeons.

Dr S Kandiah left the government service in 1978, leaving behind two trained local plastic surgeons, Dr Lal Kumar and Dr V Surendranathan, as well as a recognisable groundwork within the Ministry of Health, setting the stage for further expansion of plastic and reconstructive surgery and services in the country.

A booklet produced in 1975



Birth of Plastic Surgery Department and the early formative years (1970 - 1978)
Expansion of Plastic Surgical Services (1979 - 2003)
Development of Plastic Surgical Services in Malaysia

Written by: Lim Yang Kwang