From Renaissance to Rhinoplasty: a Brief History of Plastic Surgery

Cosmetic surgery goes back a lot farther than most realize. Professional medicine has a long history of figuring out the best and most beneficial ways of modifying and healing the body, and plastic surgery is no different. Procedures such as Rhinoplasty go as far back as ancient Rome, and the gradual advancement of said procedures were mostly due to the drive to serve the patient best, even if that meant challenging contemporary surgeons. If we take a look back, we will begin to see the real depth of how much time and effort has been put into perfecting the art and science of Plastic Surgery.


Many think that Plastic Surgery is a recent form of medicine. But in fact it goes all the way back to Ancient Egypt. Egyptian medical text dated around 2000 B.C. describes physicians used reeds to hold nostrils open to allow them to heal post reconstruction. Although a primitive procedure, this principle of integrating inanimate materials with the human body helped inspire a new form of medical procedure across the globe. First century B.C. Rome was known for using cosmetic surgery to heal gladiators who were scarred and broken post-battle. This was also the first time we saw breast reduction and Rhinoplasty (“the Nose job”) in action.

Rise in Europe

By the time we get around to the 16th century, Italian surgeon Gaspare Tagliacozzi popularized the use of reconstructive surgery in Europe. He was known for his innovative form of Rhinoplasty, which would use flaps of arm skin and transferring them to the nose. He was also the first to write a full textbook on plastic surgery.


By the turn of the 20th century, Plastic surgery gained some criticism from the medical community. Dr. Charles Miller’s book The Correction of Featural Imperfections was among the books that general surgeons condemned as nonsense.

Wartime Necessity

Despite this plastic surgery continued to grow, mainly out of necessity due to wartime wounds and damaging. These went beyond simple facial reconstruction, since a extensive number of soldiers received bodily damage. In 1946, the first medical journal for plastic surgery became a reality. From then on plastic surgery only rose in recognition. It gained a spike in popularity around the 1960’s, noted by the development of Silicone. The use of it was bounced around for a little while until finally being utilized in a breast implant device by Dr. Thomas Cronin. Since then, silicone breast implants continue to be one of the most popular plastic surgeries.

Modern Innovation

Plastic surgery has come a long way, not only using reconstructive procedures, but also enhancements for beauty/aesthetic purposes. With scientific procedures always advancing, it is exciting to think about what will be the new hot innovation in cosmetic surgery.

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