The Evolution of Plastic Surgery Over The Century

Medical technology has indeed advanced to greater levels paving the way for better and more efficient medical treatments like cosmetic plastic surgery. Whether it is the inclusion of state-of-the-art machines or cutting-edge medical treatment methods, every advancement has contributed to developing the medical industry altogether.

Many medical treatments have made it easier for patients to lead a healthier and better life. It is important to understand that each medical treatment is made for particular physical or mental ailments. In this article, we will be discussing a radical medical advancement that has been helping people for years, i.e., plastic surgery or cosmetic surgery. Indeed, this medical treatment has brought a fundamental change in the medical industry.

Without further ado, let’s get into the details.

What is Plastic Surgery?

It is a surgical procedure used to restore, alter, or reconstruct the human body or any part of it. When we first hear the word plastic surgery, we think about celebrities altering their beauty to make them look more beautiful. However, the surgery has been used for years in the medical industry to help patients with facial or bodily disorientation.

For instance, if you have succumbed to burns on your skin, plastic surgery can change your skin’s appearance. Over the years, plastic surgery has made plenty of transformations that have added to its efficiency and credibility.

Plastic surgery is broadly divided into two categories under which it is defined in a refined manner – reconstructive and cosmetic surgery. Whereas reconstructive surgery focuses on hand, craniofacial, and microsurgery and treatment for burns, cosmetic surgery solely concentrates on improving the aesthetic appearance.

As the name suggests, reconstructive surgery is all about reconstructing a body part through surgery and cosmetic surgery helps make your body part look appealing. Both types of surgeries are widely popular around the globe and used in larger numbers.

The Etymology of Plastic Surgery

Before moving on to other imperative details of this radical surgery procedure, let’s learn something about its name. The plastic in “plastic surgery” translates to the Greek word “plastike,” which means “reshaping” or “the art of changing the malleable flesh.” The English meaning came into existence back in 1598, and the surgical definition of plastic surgery was found in 1839 after the engineering material from petroleum.

The History of Plastic Surgery

Though the advancement in the field of plastic surgery is believed to have happened over 20 years, the origin of medical treatment dates back to the ancient era. It was a nose job, back in the ancient era that traced the existence of this surgical procedure.

The procedure for repairing a broken one has been mentioned in the ancient medical transcription of Edwin Smith Papyrus. It was the oldest surgical procedure test that gave rise to the idea of plastic surgery. It happened from 3000 to 2500 BC.

The Popularity of Nose Jobs in the 1400s

Plastic Surgery Nose

The nose was the popular body part that early surgeons used to treat. A surgeon, Antonio Branca, performed one of the first nose jobs, which was reconstructing a broken nose. He mentioned his assistant Heinrich Von Pfolspeundt who helped him throughout the surgery. Von Pfolspeundt has described the entire surgical technique in different stages:

  • First, they create a replica of the nose, more like a model with the help of parchment or leather. It helped the surgeon in getting a clear idea of the nose and how they have to re-create it.
  • They lay that model on the patient’s forearm to draw a line around its edges.
  • The marked area is separated from the under layers in a way that the bottom of the nose model stays on the forearm.
  • Slowly, the patient is asked to raise the hand and take it close to the head to position the nose flap on the nose area correctly.
  • The nose model is then stitched onto the defective area, and the hand is bound to stay close to the head so that the nose is completely fixed.
  • The patients have to suffer for 8-10 or till the skin tissues are healed from the defect, after which the lower layer of the nose flap is cut, and the arm is freed.

Though this invasive surgical procedure might seem frightening right now, it brought radical changes in medical surgery back then, and it was considered a cutting-edge technique.

After the demise of Antonio, Gasparo Tagliocozzi wrote a seminal work on plastic surgery “De Curtorum Chirurgia per Insitionem Libri Duo.” It was based on the surgery defects caused due to implantation. He added that the surgical procedure got famous and named among European plastic surgeons.

Ancient India Emerged As An Inspiration To Plastic Surgeons in the 1800s

The development of plastic surgery was at a halt up till the 18th century. A significant advancement in the surgery field was the “skin graft,” which was a breakthrough in the medical field developed in ancient India. A strange-looking skin graft attached to a man’s nose area was rediscovered in his medical book “Sushruta Samhita.”

By 800 BC, reconstructive surgery was being used in India. Sushruta, a physician, had immensely contributed to the medical industry, especially in the field of cataracts and plastic surgery back in the 6th century.

He focused on reconstructive surgery to help people remodel disoriented body parts. The ancient medical surgery procedure of reconstructing a broken nose was illustrated in Gentleman Magazine’s 1794 edition. Sushruta used a leaf-shaped skin flap from the forehead of the patient to reconstruct the nose.

After the method was widely spread in the medical industry in the 18th century, this surgical treatment was called the “Indian method” and gained ample popularity. Like any other medical practice, it took years for cosmetic surgeons to adopt this technique. By using the base of the skin grafting technique, many plastic surgeons like Jacques Reverdin, and Casimir Guyon started developing more advanced skin grafting practices; some methods are even used today.

The Middle Age And Renaissance Era of Plastic Surgery

The reconstructive surgery practice was popular in the early Middle Ages, as mentioned in the transcriptions from the ancient era. The further transformation comes to a halt after the fall of Rome and the rise of Christianity. It was after the spread of Christianity that science had to make way for religion and mysticism.

At one point, Pope Innocent III said that any kind of surgery would be a violation of the Church law. It didn’t take any time for scientific knowledge to get replaced with spirituality and religious belief. Moreover, the plastic surgeons couldn’t maintain hygiene during the surgery which put the patients’ lives at risk.

It was after the twentieth century that plastic surgery and its techniques made some advancements, including the development of repairing cleft lips. It is true that in the Renaissance era, some radical advancements in surgical methods helped in developing safer and non-invasive surgical practices.

Advancements Induced By Wars

Soldiers Plastic Surgery

In the late eighteenth century, surgical techniques saw some more improvements that brought many transformations. It was during the beginning of the 20th century that plastic surgery again needed to treat the causalities of the war. Reconstructive surgery helped many soldiers to reconstruct their lost parts. It is also said that World War I brought surgery to the mainstream medical industry.

Military physicians got hundreds of casualties with the treatment of head and facial injuries caused by the modern weapons used in the war. Surgeons were forced to find ways to treat such grave injuries, and the scary injuries eventually led to some great innovations in the surgical processes.

Expert plastic surgeons from Europeans dedicated their skills and efforts to restoring the brave soldiers’ affected body parts and giving them a new life.

During World War I, a significant skin grafting method was found, i.e., tubed pedicled graft leading to surgical advancements. Archibald McIndoe and Harold Gilles were the first to use these techniques to treat facial burns. These surgical procedures were different from the prior procedures and common plastic surgery procedures.

During World War I, cosmetic surgeons realized how someone’s physical appearances play a vital role in the degree of achievements in life. So, they put their best foot forward to provide the soldiers with all sorts of surgical help. According to medical evidence, the practice of cosmetic surgery began at a lower level during this period.

The widespread use of plastic surgical procedures paved the way for a better understanding of infection prevention and anesthesia, allowing plastic surgeons to provide patients with quality treatment and care. With advancements in surgical procedures, they were able to handle complicated cases as well. The first instances of cosmetic surgery like rhinoplasty and breast enlargement process were found during this time.

The Advancements During The 1940s and 50s

Over the years, until the 1900s, plastic surgery made plenty of developments in the medical field. 1946 a specific medical journal was published, which was primarily dedicated to plastic surgeons.

In July 1946, the Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery published its first issue and became a regular publication. The journal has been used as a forum for spreading knowledge regarding the discoveries in surgical procedures, medical colleges, expert surgeons, etc.

With its own journal and board certification, plastic surgery was integrated into the medical industry in 1950 when it came to the general public’s attention. People started to adopt reconstructive and cosmetic surgeries for their different surgical needs.

During the Korean War, military surgeons contributed to the advancements in reconstructive surgery. They brought internal wiring techniques that dealt with facial fractures. The method used rotation flaps to treat severe skin deformities and injuries.

The Modern Era of Plastic Surgery

The modern era of surgery started to shape in the 1960s and 70s when some significant advancements were made. Silicones were a new substance that was being in some specific surgery processes.

Initially, silicone was used to treat skin deformities and imperfections. In 1962, a new breast implant device was created by Dr. Thomas Cronin – it was made with silicone. Over the next decade, there were transformations in the usage of silicone implants that were done on every possible body part.

Plastic surgeons were gradually moving forward in the medical industry. Dr. Hal B Jennings was appointed as Surgeon General and other surgeons got Nobel Prizes to pave the way for surgeons to showcase their skills in the world.

In 1980, there was a big boom in public awareness and perception of plastic surgery that further surged the popularity of this surgical procedure. With the increase in quality information spread and economic growth in the 80s, plastic surgery made its prominent place in the medical industry.

Throughout the 1990s, the advancements continued to pioneer in the industry with technological development and health care reformation. Despite the issues of the increase in reimbursement of insurance, surgeons were continuously nurturing the growth of plastic surgery. It was around this time when cosmetic surgery was adopted by many celebrities to enhance their beauty. Silicone breast implants were highly popular around the time.

What We Have Today?

The 2000s welcomed plastic surgery with wide popularity and medical advancements. With the inclusion of the internet and communication, people were more aware of this surgery. One of the popular substances used to treat facial wrinkles was Botox.

Every year, the usage of Botox injections was increasing, making it a prominent part of the surgical method. Even today, research is being conducted to find more innovations that can take plastic surgery to the next level.

Indeed, surgeons over the generations have contributed to the development of plastic surgery as an efficient surgical method to treat deformities. The above mentioned was the entire timeline that witnessed the radical expansion of plastic surgery. In the coming years, we can see some brand-new innovations that will bring a staggering rate of development in surgical procedures.

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