Health and Lifestyle for the over 50s
The Best of Guide to Cosmetic Surgery

History of cosmetic surgery


Think cosmetic surgery is a relatively recent development? Think again! In fact, plastic surgery (in one form or another) has been around for hundreds of years, and some Indian documents detailing skin-graft procedures date back as far as the 8th century BC.

One of the first recorded treatments was a form of rhinoplasty, or ‘nose-job’, and was performed by Antonio Braca in the 1400’s. The surgery involved the construction of a nose flap from skin taken from the arm, but without actually removing the skin. This meant that the patient needed to have his nose firmly pressed to his arm until the skin healed (around 10 days), when he could then be snipped free, and his nose properly reconstructed.

Believe it or not, the first documented breast augmentation surgery actually took place as long ago as 1895, by removing tissue from the back and transplanting it to the breast to rectify asymmetry. Only four years later, surgeons started to develop injectable materials for breast implants, using substances such as paraffin, vegetable oil and beeswax.


During the World Wars, plastic surgery began to improve dramatically – due to the number of soldiers requiring reconstructive procedures on their return. Increasingly sophisticated methods such as the ‘tubed pedicled graft’ were developed by plastic surgeons like Harold Gilles and Archibald McIndoe, to help treat those severely burned during the war.

The first formal training programme for plastic surgeons was formed in 1924 by Dr John Davis, and in 1943, the world saw its first female plastic surgeon, Dr Alma Dea Morani. In the 1950s and 60s, cosmetic surgery began to take shape as the industry we know today, with the first silicone breast implant being unveiled in 1962. Liposuction first started being practiced in 1982, and this opened the floodgates for a wide variety of cosmetic and reconstructive procedures, designed to help people feel more confident about their appearance.

The big question now remains – what’s next on the horizon for cosmetic surgery?

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