The Evolutionary Journey of Plastic Surgery

Plastic surgery is a branch or specialty of surgery that aims to correct the functional abnormalities, deformities and repair of aesthetic defects in the body. Its name is due to a German surgeon, Edmund Zeis who used it for the first time in a publication of 1938. This specialty had its first great impulse after World War I, with thousands and thousands of patients who suffered in their body the horrors of war. However, for thousands of years, man has tried to correct or eliminate the defects and deformities of the body, whether caused by birth, accident or trauma, and they are in abundance after the wars.

The first documented cases of plastic surgery are located in India in the year 600 BC where Sushruta describes the first cases of an incipient rhinoplasty through operations that attempted to reconstruct the nasal septum. The Egyptians have also left testimonies in papyri and geoglyphs on monuments in which various interventions are described to reconstruct the nose or ears, as they were frequently mutilated of the prisoners of war. In Roman times, Celso in the year 25 BC already used skin flaps to perform grafts on wounds.

There are numerous ancient texts describing interventions to repair nasal fractures, jaw, skin grafts, corrections to the ear, etc. All this knowledge was compiled by Arab culture, which introduced in other parts of the world.

In the midst of rebirth, a time of numerous wars and battles, there were numerous surgeons, especially in Italy who used the techniques of plastic surgery for nasal reconstruction and skin grafts in wounds. However, after several centuries without notable advances in this specialty, it was the nineteenth century when it resurfaced strongly after the discovery of anesthesia, which allows the plastic surgeon to work with the required tranquility and delicacy, thus, appeared the first surgeons specialized in certain pathologies i.e. nasal fractures, burns, grafts. The knowledge was applied to the wounded in the wars of his time e.g. Napoleonic wars.

The definitive impulse for this branch of the surgery came after the first world war in which hundreds of thousands of wounded by projectiles took place, causing the opening of the first hospital centers of the United States and Europe dedicated exclusively to cure these patients.

In those hospitals, the renowned surgeons began to work and discover and disseminate among their colleagues most of the current techniques as well as the first specific medical instruments for plastic surgery, many of which are still used. With peace until the Second World War, important advances were made and the health authorities recognized plastic surgery as a specialty independent from other surgeries.

But it was after the Second World War and its millions of wounded of every kind and condition that the cosmetic surgery was extended to all parts of human anatomy, expanding its field that until that moment was limited to nasal reconstruction and burns. Plastic surgery got worldwide recognition as an independent branch of surgery and numerous surgeons appear who spread their knowledge through medical societies and numerous publications in fifties and sixties. Today, we have the most advanced form of plastic surgery.

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