Plastic surgery Origins

Plastic surgery

Plastic surgery is the branch of medicine concerned with the reconstruction and repair of defects in the body. Reconstructive plastic surgery repairs deformities or disfigurements caused by injuries, disease, or birth defects. It seeks not only to make a person look more normal but to function better as well. Cosmetic plastic surgery is performed solely for the purpose of improving the appearance of the body. League City

Origin of name

Many people have the mistaken belief that plastic surgery got its name because it involves the use of some sort of plastic or other manmade material. In fact, the term plastic surgery comes from the Greek word “plastikos,” which means to mold or to shape. The first published use of that word was by German surgeon Karl Ferdinand von Graefe (1787–1840), one of the pioneers of plastic surgery. Von Graefe operated on the cleft palate (a birth defect in the roof of the mouth) and the eye and developed the first satisfactory procedure to correct the nose, called rhinoplasty (pronounced RYE-no-pla-stee), which he described in his 1818 book Rhinoplastik. Plastic Surgery

However, von Graefe was by no means the first or the earliest to perform such surgery. In fact, many believe that plastic surgery is one of the oldest forms of surgery. Some say that the earliest known surgery of any type dates back to the Peruvians of about 10,000 b.c., who performed craniotomies (pronounced kray-nee-AH-toh-meez) or surgery on the skull by burning holes in a person’s head. Many of the healed skulls of these patients have been found, suggesting that they survived the operation. League City

Ancient surgery

Reconstructive plastic surgery is less old, although there is written evidence that surgeons in ancient India used skin grafts as early as 3300 b.c. to repair noses and ears lost in battle or to certain forms of punishment. Roman medical writer Aulus Cornelius Celsus, who is known to have lived during the reign of Tiberius (a.d. 14–37), mentioned the reconstructive surgery of the face in his book De re medicina. It is also known that during the Chin dynasty (a.d. 229–317), Chinese surgeons surgically repaired cleft lips. Plastic Surgery

Words to Know

Cosmetic plastic surgery: Surgery designed primarily to enhance or improve the looks of an individual who may not have a gross deformity or physical impairment. League City

Graft: Bone, skin, or other tissue taken from one place on the body (or from another body) and then transplanted to another place on that body where it begins to grow again. Plastic Surgery

Reconstructive plastic surgery: Surgery designed to restore the normal appearance and functioning of disfigured or impaired areas of the human body. League City

While surgical techniques developed slowly for many centuries up to the Renaissance (a period of vigorous artistic and intellectual activity that began in Italy in the fourteenth century and soon spread across Europe, lasting into the seventeenth century), the first textbook on plastic surgery was written by Italian surgeon Gasparo Tagliacozzi (1546–1599). His book De curatorum chirurgia contained illustrations as well as words on how to surgically repair or correct the nose. One famous image in that book shows how he placed his patients in a type of straight-jacket in which one of their hands was placed on the back of their head with their nose touching their shoulder or bicep. In this way he used the patient’s own skin (on the arm) to graft new skin to the repaired nose. Plastic Surgery

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