The History of Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery

The History of Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery

Although we consider plastic and cosmetic surgery to be a modern trend, it has a long history behind it. The origins of reshaping the face and body and repairing or restoring body parts date back thousands of years.

Ancient Beginnings

Plastic surgery’s earliest beginnings weren’t necessarily about appearance, but about avoiding humility and rebuilding damaged or lost body parts. Most historians believe the first recordings of plastic surgery are found in the ancient Indian Sanskrit texts. A man named Sushruta, who lived in India around 1000-800 BC, performed nasal reconstruction and was considered well ahead of his time in the field of medicine. When cutting off the noses of thieves and criminals was common, he used cheek or forehead flaps to reconstruct the nose. His primitive methods do not resemble what a rhinoplasty is today, but they were the earliest known beginnings of this field.

During ancient Roman times, when appearance and beauty were valued assets, people began experimenting with plastic surgery for aesthetic reasons. Scar removal and other cosmetic procedures were performed with primitive tools that vaguely resemble some of today’s surgical instruments.

The Key Player in Modern Surgery

Though these early beginnings are fascinating and laid the groundwork for future surgical procedures, most physicians recognize a particular man as the trailblazer in this now-popular profession. A surgeon by the name of Jacques Joseph performed a successful otoplasty on a boy who was ostracized for his protruding ears in 1896 in Berlin, Germany. Joseph later performed a rhinoplasty on a man who was embarrassed by his large nose. These procedures were nearly unheard of at the time, and many believe that subsequent procedures were all modeled after Joseph’s techniques.

Recent Developments

During World War I, soldiers whose faces were disfigured from war injuries underwent plastic surgery procedures, largely due to a man named Dr. Hippolyte Morestin, who trained surgeons in reconstructive procedures at a French hospital in the early 1900s. During that same time period, Dr. Varaztad Kazanjian began performing facial surgical techniques, contributing to plastic surgery’s growth and public interest.

By 1924, the first formal plastic surgery training program was established at Johns Hopkins by a man named Dr. John Davis. And in 1931, the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons was founded. In 1937, the American Board of Plastic Surgery was established, which became a driving force behind today’s solid standards for plastic surgery procedures.

In the years that followed, plastic surgeons became more numerous and in demand, and techniques continued to be refined and perfected. Today, we are fortunate to have exceptional standards in place that are due, in large part, to the surgeons who came before us and who insisted on quality and safety for patients.

If you’re considering facial plastic surgery, choose a double board certified surgeon who has extensive expertise in this specialized area of medicine. Contact the Houston office of Dr. Michel Siegel today!

Scroll to Top