History of Plastic Surgery

Choose the topic:

• Looking back to history
• Romans
• Renaissance
• Interwar period
• 19 – 20 centuries
• Plastic surgery today
• Future

Looking back into the history of plastic surgery

For centuries people from different cultures, nations and tribes were trying to change their bodies by putting discs to their lips, stretching their earlobes, binding their feet, filling their teeth, making different tattoos and marking their skin. And still, nowadays, people are trying to change their looks like many years ago. Despite a popular view, plastic, reconstructive and cosmetic surgery is performed not only in order to improve a current structure or anatomy, but also to restore the body parts for them to look normal due to some injuries or alteration.

History of plastic surgery has started as one of the oldest healing arts in the world. Physicians have been practicing plastic surgery methods for hundreds of years. For example, in ancient India, penal system decreed nose amputation as a punishment for adultery. As a result, physicians were using skin grafts for reconstructive work around a nose. Amputations and invasive wound-healing procedures were made around 800 A.D.


The Romans, a society that was passionate about the beauty of the naked body, viewed any abnormality, especially that of the genitalia, with suspicion. Romans were able to perform simple surgeries, such as repairing damaged skin and other tissues, circumcision or breast reduction operations.


Significant discoveries in the development of plastic surgery were made during the Renaissance times. Science and technology were quickly progressing around the world, resulting in safer and more effective surgical techniques and good outcomes. During this period surgeons were trying to work with skin flaps from the cheek and skin grafts from donors in order to reconstruct a nose. The illustration features rhinoplasty using a biceps muscle pedicle flap. The graft was attached to one‘s nose and was kept like that for 3-weeks post-procedure. The surgeon then shaped the skin into a nose.

At first the surgical treatment was difficult, but early eighteenth-century surgeons made serious and successful attempts at establishing anaesthesia and discovered antibiotics that allowed surgeons to perform a wider variety of increasingly complex procedures with fewer complications and less pain. However, plastic surgery had reached its greatest progress and unimaginable heights during the period of wars.

Interwar period

During massive wars such as World War I and II, plastic surgery was a necessity for many soldiers and ordinary people. Surgeons were required to treat and reconstruct deep and extensive injuries such as  open face injuries, fractures, blown-off noses, lips and other.Operations required innovative restorative procedures in order to achieve the best outcomes. Surgeons started to perform procedures on lips using microsurgery, sewing a flap from the neck, rhinoplasty, a free skin graft from the arm instead of the original delayed pedicle flap, cleft palate operation and other procedures.

19 – 20 centuries

There were also many significant scientific developments in the 19th and the 20th centuries – the age of technology rise and discoveries. Plastic surgery continued to grow and became a common procedure around the world.  A range of technological advances led to further refinement in the management of skin cancer, nerve injury and different depth wounds. The integration of plastic surgery into hospital practice also helped to manage many severe conditions. For example, new substance called silicone was created. As a result, patients with breast cancer have got a great opportunity for breast reconstruction.

Trends in plastic surgery today

Nowadays abnormal structures of the body that often are the result of birth defects, trauma, injury or disease are successfully repaired with plastic or reconstructive surgery. The current plastic surgeons can offer a large spectrum of procedures for women such as body contouring, facial rejuvenation and even special procedures for men.

Despite all the benefits of plastic surgery, it is still a high stressor for patient with possible consequences that include death, pain, alterations and other complications. In order to minimize the risk of complications, new trends in surgery are introduced every day. The most recent and most important trend in plastic surgery is a less invasive surgery and procedures designed to avoid the visible scars after surgery. Surgeons are constantly researching new fillers and other materials that last longer and new lasers in pursuance for a better effect. They are also exploring the cloning technology as a method of body rejuvenation, exploring gene therapy that can help treating soft-tissues, bone formation, and nerve regeneration. Moreover, stem cell technology of bone marrow and others, biomaterials, engineering, and molecular medicine has advanced and will, probably, be used in plastic and reconstructive surgery.

Looking into the future

Plastic surgery has a promising future. Plastic surgeons are seen as imaginative, inventive, and ingenious people. Without such drive for innovation, plastic surgery would not be as great as it is today.