In General

History of Plastic Surgery

Plastic surgery is a surgical procedure that helps in the restoration, reconstruction or making changes in the human body. The term plastic surgery was extracted from a Greek word plastikos which mean to create or to mould. This does not imply that the patients have to end up with a fake face! It solely aims at enhancing the appearance of a person. The reconstructive surgery helps in reconstructing any part of the body or its functioning. Whereas, cosmetic surgery aims at improving the appearance of any part.

Plastic surgery and its origin in India:

The first detailed description of plastic surgical procedures was found in the clinical text of the Indian surgery “Sushruta Samhita” during the 600 B.C. The first ever plastic surgery repair that was noticeably mentioned to have repaired a broken nose found in the Edwin Smith Papyrus’s script which is a transcript of an Ancient Egyptian medical text belonging from 3000 to 2500 BC.

Therefore, the reconstructive techniques were being practised ever since 800 BC. All these noticeable contributions were made by Sushruta who was a physician and was able to treat cataract surgery and other plastic surgeries during the 6th century BC. The medical work that was contributed by Sushruta and Charak were originally written in Sanskrit and then it was translated into the Arabic language during 750 AD.

The British physicians then visited India to gain knowledge on the Rhinoplasties that was being performed by the native techniques. The reports of this Indian Rhinoplasty procedure was then published in the year 1794 in Gentleman’s Magazine. However, after this Joseph Constantine Carpue used up almost 20 years in India studying the local plastic surgical methods in the Western world in the year 1815. By that time Sushruta Samhita made further modifications on his techniques of plastic surgery.

Related: History of Laser and Vaser Liposuction

The Romans also started performing the plastic cosmetic surgery like ear repairing by utilising simple techniques. They typically acquired their knowledge by reading scripts that were being written by the Greek predecessors who left behind some astonishingly accurate descriptions. However, the surgical procedures were not considered as common, because it still included risks in the procedures. Until anesthesia was established the surgeries involved great health risks and a huge pain. The use of sterile techniques and disinfectants also reduced the chances of infections. Then it was all followed by the use of antibiotics like sulphonamide and penicillin.

Later on in the year 1793, Francois Chopart performed lip surgery by involving the use of a flap from the neck. In 1814, Joseph Carpue was successful in performing such surgeries on the British Military officer who has lost his nose due to the toxic effects of the mercury treatment. This surgical detail was published by a German surgeon in the year 1818.

Ancient Indian method for nasal reconstruction:

Nasal reconstruction may be a common procedure now, but nasal reconstruction was developed early during the origin of plastic surgery. They used cheek flap or median forehead flap to correct an injured nose. This ancient procedure was estimated to be performed by Smith Papyrus and was written for about 3000 BC.

Also Read: Saddle Nose Deformity- Autogenous Graft Repair

The first detailed description of the surgical replacement of the surgically removed nose was mentioned on the Indian surgery in Sushruta Samhita during 600 BC which had their early origin in the Vedas. This procedure finally helped to change the course of Plastic surgery in Europe and other parts of the world. To enhance the healing procedure of herbs, cotton wool and sesame oil were used as a dressing. Later on, when the graft healed completely, the tissues were cut off and joined on the cheek.

Not only this, Sushruta also mentioned about the pre and post-operative instructions. After stitching the area, he used ghee and honey on the area and then covered with a cotton and gauze. Then he tied the area neither too tight or too lose. There are some of the other evidence too that proved the fact that it is India only which showed the origin of plastic surgery. The other plastic surgery procedures that also had root in India-

Face Transplantation- There have been recent controversies about the origin of a face transplant in our ancient India. We all know that Lord Shiva attached elephant’s head to his own sons head during the Vedic period. Therefore these concepts were the origin that introduced and encouraged facial transplant.

Facial reconstruction- This was mentioned in the Ayurveda by Sushruta in the 600 BC where he described the variety of local flaps that are still used for facial plastic surgery. He described the procedures of nose reconstruction, earlobe repair, skin grafting, wound healing and burn care.


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