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When Was Plastic Surgery Invented?

When Was Plastic Surgery Invented?

Over the years, human beings have actively focused on self-improvement. Therefore, it is no surprise that plastic surgery is one of the oldest treatments to be discovered. Although it gained popularity decades ago, it is believed that the origin of plastic surgery is quite ancient—documentation of the use of surgical means to correct facial injuries dates back more than 4000 years ago.

The invention of plastic surgery

Plastic surgery is believed to have begun in the form of skin grafts in ancient India as early as 800BC. Sushruta, a Hindu surgeon, is one of the first surgeons to practice reconstructive surgery. He reconstructed a nose using a piece of cheek and also wrote the Sushruta Samhita, a collection of medical information about ancient plastic surgery. His medical works were later translated into Arabic in 750BC and made their way to Europe via intermediaries.

There are also many recorded incidents of reconstructive surgery and skin grafts throughout history in Eastern medicine. But like most medicine, the overall progress of plastic surgery was slow over the following years as the Indian techniques were introduced in Europe, refined, and adapted for new applications. Another advancement in medicine occurred during the Greco-Roman period.

During the Greco-roman period, Aulus Cornelius Celsus, a medical writer, wrote De Medicina, which explained surgical methods for reconstructing lips, noses, and ears. Later in the early Byzantine period, Oribasius published a whole medical encyclopedia titled Synagogue Medicae with various pages dedicated to reconstructive procedures to repair facial defects.

Middle ages and the renaissance

The practice of reconstructive surgery continued in the early middle ages, but further developments came to a standstill with the fall of Rome and the spread of Christianity. Science gave way to religion and mysticism, interfering with the pursuit of scientific knowledge. There was also a concern for the safety of patients due to a lack of cleanliness, standards, and hygiene. However, there were minor advancements during this age, including a procedure to repair a cleft lip.

According to Dr. Dan Yamini plastic surgeon, significant developments in science and technology occurred during the renaissance, leading to safer surgical techniques. During the 15th century, Serafeddin Sabuncuoglu wrote an Islamic text titled imperial surgery with 191 surgical topics. It included passages on eyelid surgery, maxillofacial surgery, and the approach for gynecomastia treatment, the foundation for modern-day surgical breast reduction.

Progress during the war

In the 17th-century, plastic surgery declined again, but some developments would later be seen in the late 18th century. Major advances in plastic surgery were witnessed in the 20th century when many soldiers required reconstructive surgeries to deal with war injuries. Therefore world war 1 brought plastic surgery back to a whole new level.

The need for military physicians to treat extensive head and facial injuries caused by modern weaponry led to the invention of new plastic surgical procedures. Some skilled surgeons in Europe dedicated their professions to restoring their soldiers to wholeness during and after the world war.

During this time, surgeons began to fully realize the potential one’s appearance could exert on the degree of success they experience in life. Therefore they started practicing aesthetic surgery as a respected part of plastic surgery. The progress also brought the understanding of anesthesia and the prevention of infections allowing surgeons to perform complex procedures.

In the 1940s-1950s

The first journal of plastic and reconstructive surgery was published in 1946, serving as a platform for disseminating knowledge among plastic surgeons. More complex plastic surgery procedures were performed during the Korean war, including the use of rotation flaps to correct deformities and wiring techniques to correct facial fractures.

Modern plastic surgery

Modern plastic surgery

Modern plastic surgery as we know it started to take shape in the 1960s and 70s as there were many scientific developments during this time. Silicone as a breast implant was unveiled during this time and developed for use in many parts of the face and the body.

Developments continued in the 1980s and 90s as plastic surgery advocates increased awareness of plastic surgery procedures. With the raised awareness and the economic boom of the 1980s, plastic surgery grew in popularity.

Currently, one of the notable trends in plastic surgery is the move towards non-invasive plastic surgery procedures. The most popular plastic surgery procedures today involve the use of injectable substances like botox and wrinkle fillers to make surgeries more efficient and comfortable. It is also becoming common for surgeons to dedicate their time and resources to perform reconstructive surgery on people who live in disadvantaged parts of the world.

Media coverage of plastic surgery has helped improve people’s perception of it, and many are embracing its benefits. Many people agree that reconstructive surgery and cosmetic surgery can help improve one’s quality of life.


Plastic surgery has made significant progress, and it is still evolving as technology advances. Every year many people undergo different plastic surgeries to improve their appearance and boost their self-esteem.

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