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25 Random Facts About . . .

Plastic Surgery

  1. “Plastic” is derived from the Greek plasikos, meaning “to mold.” The term “surgery” is derived from the Greek kheirourgos, from kheir - “hand” + ergon - “work.”d
  2. The first recorded “nose job” is found in ancient Indian Sanskrit texts (600 B.C.).c Physicians would reconstruct noses by cutting skin from either the cheek or forehead, twisting the skin side out over a leaf of the appropriate size, and sewing the skin into place. Two polished wooden tubes would be inserted into the nostrils to keep the air passage open during healing.e
  3. By the first century B.C., Romans were practicing various forms of plastic surgery to repair noses, eyes, lips, and teeth. Roman physician Cornelius Celsus (c. 25 B.C.-A.D. 50) also describes procedures such as circumcision reversal and even breast reduction in men.d
  4. A popular procedure in ancient Rome was scar removal, particularly scars on the back which were marks of shame because they suggested a man had turned his back in battle—or worse, he had been whipped like a slave. Foreigners would also have plastic surgery to fit better into Roman society.d
  5. During the Middle Ages, plastic surgery was typically deemed pagan and sinful because the spilling of blood by a surgeon and the power the surgeon had over the body were akin to magic.d
  6. When plastic surgery became popular during the Renaissance, surgeons took skin grafts from various donors, such as a neighbor’s pig, but were confused when the new nose would shrivel up and fall off. They concluded the flesh was “sympathetic,” meaning that the graft died when its original owner died.d
  7. Many plastic surgeries in the early Renaissance were performed in barber shops.d
  8. Italian Gaspare Tagliacozzi (1546-1599) is widely considered the “father of modern plastic surgery.” His text book De curtorum chirugiau noted the need for plastic surgery due to duels and street fights, as well as a pervasive outbreak of syphilis which destroyed the nose. His “virtual” nose, however, could fall off if the user blew too hard, and young women with reconstructed noses were hardly objects of desire.d
  9. Tagliacozzi was an atypical plastic surgeon during the Renaissance because he did not view illness, such as the syphilitic nose, as divine punishment. Instead he used the vocabulary of humanists such as Giovanni Francesco Pico della Mirandola (1463-94) to justify his surgical innovations as autonomous self-remaking. Tagliacozzi’s work disappeared mainly as a result of the Counterreformation.d
  10. In 1794, British surgeons witnessed an Indian brick layer repair the nose of a British cattle driver who had his nose and hand cut off while a prisoner of the sultan. British surgeons imported the procedure back to northern Europe where interest rapidly grew.d
  11. Karl Ferdinand Graefe (1787-1840) coined the term “plastic surgery” in his 1818 text Rhinoplastik. He also attempted to remove the moral stigma associated with nose reconstruction by giving the procedure a classical name—rhinoplasty—to make it more similar to other surgical procedures.d
  12. Surgeons who served in WWI established the American Association of Plastic Surgery in 1931 and helped curtail unregulated plastic surgery.b They are the largest plastic surgery specialty organization in the world.a
  13. World War II
    WWII played a significant role in advancing plastic surgery techniques
  14. WWII ushered in plastic surgery techniques that included rebuilding entire limbs, extensive skin grafts, microsurgery, antibodies, and increased knowledge about tissue health.d
  15. Silicone breast implants grew in popularity in the 1960s. Show girls would inject their breasts with liquid silicone, a substance initially used in Japan in WWI to plump out legs withered by polio. Unfortunately, they could suffer dangerous side effects, such as amputation of the breast due to infection and guaranteed “pendulous” breasts by the time they reached 40.e
  16. In Nazi Germany, some forms of reconstructive surgery were mandated to enable the “too ugly” solder to become a “real” soldier. Benito Mussolini’s (1880-1945) Italy also used plastic surgery to increase the performance of military officers, such as correcting drooping eyelids.d
  17. The first modern breast augmentation took place on November 24, 1893, in Heidelberg, Germany, by Vincent Czerny. His patient was a 41-year-old singer who had a growth in her breast removed. Luckily, the patient had a growth (lipoma) on her back, which was harvested and transplanted to her breast. She was discharged on December 20, 1893.d
  18. In 1998, Bill Clinton signed a bill which required insurance companies to cover the cost of reconstructive breast surgery for women who had undergone a mastectomy.a
  19. In 2007, there were more than 11.5 million plastic surgery procedures performed, an increase of 50% from 2000. The overall number of plastic surgery procedures has increased 457% since the collection of statistics first began.g
  20. The most popular performed procedure is Botox, which is a protein derived from the botulism toxin. It is injected into the skin to paralyze facial muscles, giving the recipient a smooth facial appearance. The effects of the procedure typically wear off after three to six months.g
  21. liposuction
    Doctors performing liposuction
  22. The most popular surgery for men and women combined in 2007 was liposuction. The most popular surgery for women alone was breast augmentation, with liposuction coming in second.g
  23. Women constituted 91% of plastic surgery patients in 2007, though the number of men receiving plastic surgery increased 17% from 2006.g
  24. Americans spent $13.2 billion on plastic surgery in 2006.g
  25. Two-thirds of plastic surgery patients are repeat patients, and more than five million Americans may be addicted to plastic surgery. One example of such addiction, 48-year-old Hang Mioku was left disfigured after she injected her own face with cooking oil.f
  26. Modern plastic surgeons are exploring the potential of cloning technology as a method of body rejuvenation and are looking into the secrets of the growth within the womb where scarless growth and healing take place.d
  27. Big Tent Books published a new picture book by plastic surgeon Michael Salzhauer titled My Beautiful Mommy that explains to kids why mom is getting a flatter tummy.h

-- Posted December 5, 2008

References

a American Society of Plastic Surgeons. "The History of Plastic Surgery, ASPS and PSEF." Accessed: July 20, 2008.

b Backstein R, and A. Hinkek. 2005. “War and Medicine: The Origins of Plastic Surgery.” University Toronto Medical Journal. 3:217-219.

c DiBacco, Thomas. Dec. 13, 1994. “Plastic Surgeries Earliest Cases Date to Ancient Egypt, India.” Washington Post.

d Gilman, Sander L. 1999. Making the Body Beautiful: A Cultural History of Aesthetic Surgery. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

e Haiken, Elizabeth. 1997. Venus Envy: A History of Cosmetic Surgery. Baltimore, MD: The John Hopkins University Press.

f "Hooked on Face Lifts." USATODAY.com. Nov 12, 2008. Accessed: November 30, 2008.

g PlasticSurgeryResearch.Info. Accessed: November 30, 2008. h Springen, Karen. April 15, 2008. "Mommy 2.0." NewsWeek.com. Accessed: July 20, 2008.