Where does the term Plastic Surgery come from? In this post we tell how the concept arose and what are the historical background and evolution of the specialty, from its origins in Ancient History to the consolidation of modern Plastic Surgery in the 19th century and the subsequent birth of its aesthetic aspect.
Etymologically, the name Plastic Surgery derives from two Greek words: Girurguiki (surgery, hand, work) and Plastikos (molding, shaping), which reflects its initial almost artisanal character.
Later, Karl Ferdinand Von Gräfe incorporated it in his monograph “Rhinoplastik” (Berlin, 1818), although it was a German surgeon, Eduard Zeis, who popularized it by publishing his treatise “Handbuch der PlastichenChirurgie” in 1838, thus baptizing this surgical specialty.
Despite the fact that the term became popular in the 19th century, the foundations of Plastic Surgery are already found in Ancient History. Thus, we can find plastic techniques in documents as ancient as the Egyptian papyri (3000 BC) or Sanskrit texts from India (2600 BC).
A sample of the above are the texts of the Indian doctor and surgeon Sushruta from 600 BC, in which interventions for nasal reconstruction are described, taking into account that the amputation of the nose was a frequent procedure to punish infidelity.
Despite this involution, in the fourteenth century the sciences and, with them, surgery were reborn, again with important contributions from both the East and the West. Thus, the Ottoman physician ŞerafeddinSabuncuoğlu described original techniques for the treatment of gynecomastia that are considered the first indications for removal of breast glandular tissue for aesthetic reasons and are the basis of current breast reduction techniques.
For his part, the Bolognese G aspareTagliacozzi (1545) is considered a key doctor in the development of Plastic Surgery for his detailed work on pedicle flaps, especially for nasal reconstruction.
Resurgence and birth of modern Plastic Surgery
In the 19th century, the definitive resurgence of the specialty took place thanks, in part, to the work of the Frenchman François Chopart on labial reconstruction with cervical flaps. During this time there is also spectacular progress associated with advances in anesthesia.
Along these lines, Karl Ferdinand Von Gräfe uses nasal reconstruction techniques during the Napoleonic Wars, describes palmar fibromatosis and classifies burns according to their depth. Meanwhile, Bernhard Von Langenbeck develops the treatment of cleft palate and Sir Astley Cooper performs the first skin graft.
The improvement of reconstructive techniques, together with the reduction in risks offered by anesthesia and the sterile technique developed by Joseph Lister, made it easier to start applying surgical-plastic procedures to improve the appearance of facial structures, even if they had not been injured or mutilated. In this way Aesthetic Surgery arises, considering the American John Orlando Roe the first surgeon to perform a nasal aesthetic approach.
Later, the German Jacques Joseph published an exhaustive analysis of the nose, which included a classification of the repair techniques of its various aesthetic alterations, work for which he is considered the father of Nasal Aesthetic Surgery.
Finally, a curiosity. The dysmorphophobia (disfigured perception of the own image) to which many specialists allude today, is already documented in writings of the nineteenth century. In the specific case of the nose, the authors of the time called it “rhinomania.”