History of Plastic Surgery: When Was Plastic Surgery Invented

Plastic surgery is a specialized branch of medicine focused on repairing, reconstructing, or altering the human body. It has become an increasingly popular practice over the years. With advanced technology and techniques, it is now a common way for people to enhance their appearance or correct any physical imperfections.

However, the history of plastic surgery dates back much further than most people realize. Read on to learn more.

Who Invented Plastic Surgery?

The history of plastic surgery can be traced back to ancient Egypt, where the earliest known surgical procedures were performed. The "Edwin Smith Papyrus," an ancient Egyptian medical text, contains what is believed to be the first recorded evidence of trauma surgery, including procedures that resemble plastic surgery.

However, the title "Father of Plastic Surgery" is often attributed to Sushruta, an Indian physician who lived between 1000 and 800 BC. Sushruta not only advanced medicine in general but also made significant strides in reconstructive surgery. He developed and refined surgical techniques, many of which have been passed down through the ages and continue influencing modern surgical practices. His work involved complex procedures, including skin grafts, which are still used in reconstructive surgery today.

Plastic Surgery in America

Fast forward to the 19th century, we meet John Peter Mettauer, America's first plastic surgeon. Born in Virginia in 1787, Mettauer performed the first cleft palate operation in America in 1827, using instruments of his own design. His innovations and pioneering work laid the groundwork for developing plastic surgery in the United States.

The dawn of the 20th century brought about significant advancements in plastic surgery, largely driven by the devastating injuries suffered by soldiers during World War I. This period gave birth to modern plastic surgery, with surgeon Harold Gillies developing new methods of facial reconstructive surgery in 1917. His groundbreaking work marked a significant turning point in the field. This paved the way for the comprehensive, sophisticated procedures we see today.

When Did Plastic Surgery Start in Canada?

The history of plastic surgery in Canada is closely tied to the life and work of several key figures, notably Dr. E. Fulton Risdon. Trained by Sir Harold Gillies, who is widely regarded as the father of modern plastic surgery, Risdon was the first doctor in Canada to practice plastic surgery as a distinct specialty. His pioneering work laid the foundation for developing this field in the country.

The Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons, which played a crucial role in establishing plastic surgery as a recognized specialty, held its inaugural meeting at Queen Mary Veterans' Hospital in Montreal on November 7, 1947.

Another significant figure in the history of Canadian plastic surgery is Dr. Albert Ross Tilley. His contributions to the field were extensive and influential, and his legacy continues to impact the practice of plastic surgery in the country. In 1984, Tilley's vision led to the establishment of the Ross Tilley Burn Centre at Wellesley Hospital. The history of plastic surgery in Canada has evolved significantly since these early days, with numerous practitioners contributing to its advancement over the years.

Plastic Surgery Now

Plastic surgery has become commonplace in the modern world, with millions of patients undergoing these procedures. Technological advancements have allowed people to undergo surgeries that were once considered unimaginable. Today, there is a wide variety of plastic surgery options available, from non-invasive procedures like Botox and dermal fillers to more complex surgeries like rhinoplasty and breast augmentation.

With the widespread availability of plastic surgery, there has also been a shift in societal attitudes towards it. While it was once a taboo subject, discussions about plastic surgery procedures are now more open and accepted. More people are openly talking about their experiences with cosmetic procedures, and celebrities are often praised for being open about their enhancements. This cultural shift has led to an increase in awareness and acceptance of plastic surgery, making it a more accessible option for those who wish to change or improve their appearance.

The invention and development of plastic surgery are a testament to human ingenuity and resilience. It is a field that has evolved over centuries, shaped by various individuals from different periods and cultures. From the ancient times of Sushruta and Egyptian medicine, through the pioneering work of John Peter Mettauer to the transformative techniques of Harold Gillies, the story of plastic surgery continues to unfold, improving and transforming lives along the way.

Types of Plastic Surgery

Plastic surgery is often divided into two main categories: cosmetic and reconstructive.

Cosmetic Surgery (Aesthetic Plastic Surgery)

Also known as aesthetic surgery, cosmetic plastic surgery focuses on enhancing the physical appearance and improving aesthetic appeal, symmetry and proportion. The cosmetic surgeon aims to improve a person's self-esteem, confidence and overall sense of well-being through procedures that alter the appearance of certain body parts.

Some of the popular procedures include:

  • Silicone breast implants
  • Rhinoplasty (nose job)
  • Liposuction
  • Tummy tucks
  • Facelifts
  • Body contouring

Reconstructive Surgery

This type of plastic surgery is performed to correct functional impairments caused by burns, traumatic injuries, congenital abnormalities (like cleft palate or cleft lip), developmental abnormalities, infection or disease or cancer or tumors. Reconstructive procedures generally aim to improve function, but they may also be done to achieve a more typical physical appearance.

Procedures include:

  • Scar revision
  • Hand surgery
  • Breast reconstruction after mastectomy
  • Post-traumatic reconstructive plastic surgery for facial injuries

It's important to note that the distinction between cosmetic and reconstructive surgery can be complex. Some procedures, like eyelid surgery or rhinoplasty, can be performed for both cosmetic and functional reasons.

Sub-Specialties of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery

Reconstructive plastic surgery is a broad field that includes several subspecialties. Each subspecialty focuses on specific parts of the body, conditions, or types of procedures.

  • Cranio-Maxillofacial Surgery. This involves the treatment of disorders affecting the skull, face, and jaw. It covers a wide range of conditions, including congenital defects, trauma injuries and diseases such as cancer. Surgeons in this field often work closely with dentists and orthodontists in treating these complex conditions.
  • Hand Surgery. This subspecialty focuses on conditions impairing the wrist and fingers' strength, function and flexibility. Hand surgeons treat a variety of issues, from common conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome to complex microsurgery procedures like reattaching severed fingers.
  • Head and Neck Reconstruction. This subspecialty deals with deformities or injuries in the head and neck area. These can be a result of trauma, cancer, or congenital conditions. Procedures can range from skin grafts for burn victims to full facial reconstructions.
  • Breast Reconstruction. This is a key area of focus, particularly for women who've undergone a mastectomy due to breast cancer. The aim is to recreate a natural-looking breast to help improve the patient's quality of life and self-esteem after cancer surgery.
  • Microsurgery. This involves using microscopes and precision instrumentation to perform intricate operations on tiny structures. This technique is often used in replantation surgery and hand reconstruction.
  • Pediatric Plastic Surgery. This subspecialty deals with correcting congenital defects and injuries in children. Common procedures include cleft lip and palate repair, craniosynostosis correction and treatment of vascular anomalies.
  • Aesthetic/Cosmetic Surgery. Although not strictly reconstructive, many plastic surgeons also specialize in aesthetic or cosmetic surgery to improve appearance. Common procedures include facelifts, rhinoplasty and liposuction.

To date, craniofacial surgery and hand surgery are the only two Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)-accredited plastic surgery subspecialties. This means they have formal training programs recognized by the leading body in medical education.

Trust Only the Experienced: Get Your Skin or Hand Surgery at The Minor Surgery Center

When considering plastic surgery, choosing a reputable and experienced surgeon you can trust is important. At The Minor Surgery Center, our highly skilled and board-certified plastic surgeons have years of experience in skin and hand plastic surgery.

We specialize in minor procedures, including skin tag removal, age spot treatment and removal, carpal tunnel surgery, hair loss treatment, lipoma removal and more. We also perform malignant skin cancer tumor removal, such as basal cell carcinoma removal and melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma surgeries. Our surgeons have undergone extensive training and have a deep understanding of the procedures they perform, ensuring superior results for our patients.

In addition to our experienced surgeons, we also utilize state-of-the-art technology and techniques to ensure the safety and effectiveness of our procedures. We understand that deciding to undergo plastic surgery is personal, so we provide individualized care and support for each patient. Our surgeons are trained in the latest techniques and technologies to ensure optimal results, and we prioritize patient safety above all else.

Contact us now to schedule a consultation!

March 28, 2024