Reconstructive surgery techniques were being carried out in India by 800 BC. Sushruta, the father of Surgery, made important contributions to the field of plastic and cataract surgery in 6th century BC.
The medical works of both Sushruta and Charak originally in Sanskrit were translated into the Arabic language during the Abbasid Caliphate in 750 AD.
The Arabic translations made their way into Europe via intermediaries. In Italy the Branca family of Sicily and Gaspare Tagliacozzi (Bologna) became familiar with the techniques of Sushruta
As early as 600 BC, a Hindu surgeon reconstructed a nose using a piece of cheek. By 1000 AD, rhinoplasty was common, due to the barbaric custom of cutting off the noses and upper lips of one’s enemies. In the 16th century, Gaspare Tagliacozzi, known as “the father of plastic surgery,” reconstructed noses slashed off by swords during duels by transferring flaps of upper arm skin. This procedure was also used to correct the saddle nose deformity of syphilis.
The term plastic surgery, from the Greek “plastikos” (fit for molding), was coined by Pierre Desault in 1798 as a label for procedures to repair facial deformities. In the 19th century, developments in anesthesia and antisepsis made plastic surgery safer and allowed for improvements in technique. Plastic surgeons further honed their skills during the 2 world wars, then applied their techniques to victims of birth defects and automobile and industrial accidents. The American eugenics movement, with its “Better Baby Contests,” post-World War II prosperity, and the advent of motion pictures and television all helped to usher in the modern era of cosmetic surgery. The first modern cosmetic rhinoplasty was performed in 1923, followed by the first public face lift in 1931.
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