Plastic surgery seems like a modern practice. Specifically, it would appear that the ability to reconstruct our physical appearance is facilitated only by modern medical advancements. We are discovering however, that this is actually far from the truth. As it turns out, the desire to change our appearance is a practice that has been around far longer than anticipated.[1]

According to papyrus scrolls dated around 3500 BC, the ancient Egyptians were already attempting to modify the human face for aesthetic purposes. Often the use of reconstructive surgery at that time was to repair damage to the face, rather than improve the appearance. About this time, records indicate that the ancient Indians were also experimenting with nasal reconstruction as well by taking skin from the forehead and grafting it to the nasal passage.

Traveling forward to the renaissance, Noses were often lost in battle to swords and other weaponry, and a new focus on rebuilding the human body was being steered by ambitious medical practitioners of the time. The biggest cause of nose loss however, was the spread of syphilis. Often, the disease would take the nose of the sufferer- a condition known as saddle nose. Noses made of gold or silver would be worn over where the nose was prior.

In the wake of the spread, those who had suffered from nose loss sought ways to recover not only their face, but also their social standing. At the time, physical deformities were seen as a sign of punishment for misdeeds or degeneracy. Pioneers in the field, such as Gaspare Tagliacozzi, a 16th century Italian surgeon, discovered a way to help rebuild what had been lost by using skin grafted from the arm.[2] His technique lasted all the way up to World War II.

While the advancement of reconstructive and aesthetic nasal surgery has become a fairly common procedure in today’s society, it is thanks in no small part to advancements in medicine that has been pioneered over the centuries. Looking forward, perhaps records of how procedures are performed today will be found a millennium from now with curiosity.




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