Physicians from India and Egypt practiced some of the simplest forms of plastic surgery, as far back as 2000 B.C. An article in the Washington Post in 1994 by Thomas V. DiBacco, discussing how reeds were used by the Egyptians having nose reconstructions to keep the nostrils open as the nose healed. A collection of medical texts about plastic surgery, by Indian doctor Acharya Sushrut were published in 600 B.C., the Sushruta Samhita, the first of its type in ancient history.
Around the first century B.C., plastic surgery also experienced early developments in other parts of the world; surgical methods were practiced by Roman physicians to alter the body. With the Roman culture highly valuing the beauty and physique of the body, ancient Roman doctors operated on ex- gladiators whose faces and bodies had become severely injured. Roman medical writer Aulus Cornelius Celsus wrote “De Medicina,” outlining some of the methods used whilst carrying out reconstruction of the ears, lips and noses and breast reductions.
At the end of the third century A.D., after the fall of Rome the progress of plastic surgery appears to have slowed down for several hundred years. The spread of Christianity forbid any kind of surgical changes to the body, which was dictated by Pope Innocent III, during the Renaissance and the Middle Ages.
Then, in the late 1500s, a breakthrough in plastic surgery occurred. Gasparo Tagliacozzi experimented in Sicily, Italy with skin grafts for nose reconstructive surgery. Tagliacozzi’s progress however was delayed by the pressure and influences of the Church. In addition, at this time General anesthesia was still in its early phase, making any plastic surgery attempts extremely painful.
Plastic surgery continued to struggle for centuries not progressing much; there were mixed results from the few plastic surgeries that were performed. In 1907, the first text relating completely too cosmetic surgery was published “The Correction of Featural Imperfection,” but disregarded by the medical community. The outbreak of World War I, however, changed the direction of plastic surgery history forever. Thousands of WWI soldiers received extensive trauma wounds on their arms, necks, faces, and throats. Resulting in plastic surgery quickly becoming an independent medical practice that differed significantly across the nation. In order to control the profession, in 1931 the American Board of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (ASPRS) was created. With the founding of an authoritative institution, plastic surgery began a new age of enlightenment.
Over the past 100 years, the skills and experience of plastic surgery has increased tremendously. The first medical journal in plastic surgery had its first publication in 1946, this increased information about new developments in the medical industry. Due to the rapid growth in plastic surgery, the ASPRS eventually changed its title to its present name, the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). Almost all types of plastic surgery have undergone substantial technological advancement, with many receiving lawful recognition. President Bill Clinton signed a law in 1998, requiring insurance companies to cover breast reconstruction surgeries after a mastectomy.
In the mid 2000s, interest in plastic surgery skyrocketed. TV shows such as Nip/Tuck, Dr. 90210, and Extreme Makeover helped give the plastic surgery industry a familiar new look to the public.
Despite its rocky historical past, plastic surgery is a on the increase to be a multi-billion industry. Breast augmentation and liposuction are the most common plastic surgeries, with 91 % being women.
Present technology continues to develop, increasing the horizons of plastic surgery.
Plastic surgery continues to progress and evolve even from the early beginnings to recent developments.