Plastic surgery has become massively popular with television shows and celebrities getting improvements right and left. You might be wondering about plastic surgery, specifically where it came from.
Plastic Surgery Through the Ages
To start off, plastic surgery is a term used to describe a surgical procedure to modify a normal part of your body for an aesthetic purpose. It is almost always a voluntary surgery and should not be confused with reconstructive surgery which is usually undertaken to fix an abnormal part of the body caused by disease, trauma, and so on.
The term plastic surgery has nothing to do with the material known as plastic. Instead, it derives from the Greek language, much as many modern medical terms do. Plastikos means to mold or shape something in Greek, which roughly translates plastic surgery as meaning a molding surgery. If you think about it, this is a very exact terminology since it is exactly what happens.
Plastic surgery is, to the surprise of many, not a modern medical procedure. While techniques are certainly advanced these days, the basic surgical premise is known to have existed since the eighth century BC. Susrutha, an Indian surgeon, was known to undertake skin grafts during this period. He was also known to do nose reconstruction, which may sound odd until you realize nose amputation was a common penalty for certain crimes during that period. Ouch!
As seems to be the case with any discussion of the ancient past, the Romans also made advances in plastic surgery. They were known to perform plastic surgery to repair defects of the ear or at least perceived defects.
Throughout the centuries, plastic surgery existed but was less common. It was not until the last two centuries that it started to gain in both popularity and occurrence. John P. Mettauer is generally considered the first plastic surgeon in the United States and practiced in the 1820 to 1840s. He was renowned for designing his own instruments, many of which form the basis of modern surgical instruments associated with plastic surgery.
Although plastic surgery has always had a place in the medical profession, its position as a popular procedure is relatively recent.