Plastic surgeon.

Born: January 7, 1922. Died: March 27, 2011.

ANNE Sutherland, who has died aged 88, was one of Britain’s first female plastic surgeons and helped pave the way for future generations of woman in the profession.

She was the only child of David Murdoch Sutherland and his wife Margaret Bryson. Her father, a lieutenant-colonel with the 10th Royal Scots in the First World War, ran the family drapery business in Bathgate, West Lothian.

Her paternal grandfather had been provost of Bathgate, and her maternal grandfather, James Bryson, invented the Bryson retort, thus improving the process of extracting oil from shale, and later designed and oversaw the construction of the original oil refinery at Grangemouth.

She was educated at Bathgate Academy and St Hilda’s School, Liberton, Edinburgh, where she was head girl. On leaving school, she wished to study medicine, but her father thought this an unsuitable career for a woman, so she attended the Edinburgh College of Domestic Science, and went on to train as a dietician. But four years after her father’s death she embarked on a degree in pure science at Glasgow University, leaving after a year when she got a place on the MB ChB course at the University of Edinburgh, where she duly graduated in 1951.

During her time as a junior hospital doctor she became interested in plastic surgery and in particular in the effect of nutrition on the recovery of burned patients. She worked at Bangour Hospital and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh under Mr A B Wallace, who made many advances in the care of burns, and in 1956-57 spent a year in the American Army Burns Institute in San Antonio, Texas.

On her return to Edinburgh she gained her MD in 1958 with a thesis on burns and nutrition. Five years later she became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.

Miss Sutherland spent the rest of her career working at Bangour Hospital and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh, and at clinics in Kirkcaldy and Inverness.

She was appointed a consultant plastic surgeon, one of the very first women to achieve such a post in the UK, and was in administrative charge of the burns unit, which was always her main interest.

She also undertook the full range of plastic surgery, except for more specialised procedures in hand surgery and head and neck cancer, but she did not carry out private or cosmetic surgery.

She also played a prominent part in learned bodies; she was a council member of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh; a committee member and in 1978-82 the first woman chairperson of the British Burn Association; a council member and in 1987 the first, and so far the only, woman president of the British Association of Plastic Surgeons; president of the European Burns Association; and was also active in the International Society for Burn Injuries. She was an internationally recognised leader in the care of burn victims, highly esteemed among her peers, and in great demand as a speaker at conferences all over the world.

She was respected and well liked by fellow surgeons, nursing, administrative and other staff, with a reputation for demanding that things should be done properly. She was often to be found preparing special food for her severely ill burn patients before staff were assigned to carry out this task, and spent many a night in the hospital caring for them, even when she was not on call. The only time she was off work was when she broke her leg.

Miss Sutherland enjoyed a myriad of other interests. Above all she loved to travel, and almost always added a week or two of holiday after an overseas meeting or speaking engagement, visiting many destinations long before they became generally accessible.

She played hockey and tennis for both school and university, and in her 40s she took up skiing, which she enjoyed immensely; she said that it was the only thing which she could concentrate on enjoying to the exclusion of everything else. She was a keen, skilled and innovative cook, and loved to entertain.

She was also involved in the management of the Abbeyfield House at Roseburn, a member of Murrayfield Parish Church, a generous donor to many charities, and a supporter of the Edinburgh Botanic Garden and Edinburgh Zoo.

In retirement she was awarded long service badges as a volunteer in the National Trust for Scotland’s properties at Gladstone’s Land and 28 Charlotte Square. She was also a member of the Edinburgh Festival Volunteer Guides Association.

At the age of 76 she embarked on a French course with the Open University, which led her on to studying several more courses just for the sake of interest; in 2004 she was surprised to receive a letter from the OU informing her that she had, quite unintentionally, achieved a Bachelor of Arts degree at the age of 82. She also loved music, and was a regular attender at the RSNO concerts in the Usher Hall.

She died at St Columba’s Hospice in Boswall Road, Edinburgh, and will be sadly missed by her extended family and by a large circle of friends.