Four Things You Don’t Know About Cosmetic Surgery History

Cosmetic Surgery Is Not A Modern Phenomenon.

The history of cosmetic surgery goes as far back as 2000 B.C. In India and Egypt. In 600 B.C., the Indian doctor Acharya Sushrut published the Sushruta Samhita, a collection of medical texts about plastic surgery, the first of its kind.

In ancient Egypt, reeds were used after nose reconstructions to keep the nostrils open as the nose healed. 

In another part of the world, Roman physicians practiced their own nascent forms of cosmetic surgery during the first century. With a culture that highly valued the physique and beauty of the natural human body, ancient Roman surgeons worked to restore the severely deformed bodies and faces of former gladiators.  Roman medical writer Aulus Cornelius Celsus wrote “De Medicina,” which outlined techniques for breast reduction and reconstruction of the ears, lips and noses – another important early text for cosmetic surgery.

After the fall of Rome at the end of the third century A.D., developments in cosmetic surgery stalled for several hundred years as the spread of Christianity forbade surgical changes to the body (as dictated by Pope Innocent III) during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Breast Augmentation Did Not Begin With Implants

The first breast augmentation occurred in 1895 when a tumor was replaced by. . . a tumor!

Following a lumpectomy for  cancer in 1895, a Victorian lady underwent the first recorded breast augmentation when a large lipoma (a common benign fatty tumor) from her flank was used to reconstruct her breast.  Using her own (autologous) tissue prevented rejection of the transplant.

Many more substances and implants were tried between that first augmentation and the modern implants and fat grafting techniques which now allow us to offer individualized and natural augmentation results.

Plastic Surgeons Did Not Develop Liposuction

As early as the 1920’s, a French general surgeon experimented with body contouring by curettage (scraping away) of the fat beneath the skin. But, without modern antibiotics or anesthesia, his patients did not always fare well. In the early 70’s, two Italian gynecologists rekindled interest when they developed thin hollow canulas through which fat could be sucked free without disrupting major blood vessels.

But, it was not until Dr. Klein, a dermatologist working in California, perfected the tumescent technique in the mid 80’s that liposuction could be reliably performed without excessive bleeding and skin rippling.

Tumescent fluid consists of sterile saline (salt water), lidocaine (a numbing agent) and epinephrine (aka adrenaline which constricts blood vessels and decreases bleeding and absorption of the fluid). We infuse tumescent fluid throughout the areas to be treated breaking up packets of fat and making liposuction much safer, and less painful.

Since the late 1990’s some cosmetic surgeons, myself included, have begun using ultrasound assisted liposuction, or VASER lipo.  After infusing tissue with the tumescent fluid, a small canula is used to direct ultrasound energy thoughout the fat to be removed–this melts the fat into a smooth gel which can be removed with precision and control.  That removed liquefied fat is also perfect for re-injection into areas like the face or butt or hips where more volume may be desirable.

An Opthamologist Developed Botox To Treat Crossed Eyes:

Dr. Alan Scott changed the face of America – LITERALLY – but that was not his goal.  “You never know what’s going to happen the first time you do these things,” he told CBS News in 2012.  Building on work by biochemist, Dr. Edward J. Schantz and physiologist Dr. Vernon Brooks who respectively purified botulism toxin and confirmed its muscle relaxaing properties in the 50’s; Dr. Scott experimented with botulinum toxin type A in monkeys, theorizing its muscle-relaxing effects might help in the treatment of crossed eyes (or strabismus).  After successful animal testing in the 60’s  In 1978, Scott received FDA approval to inject tiny amounts of botulinum toxin into human volunteers and soon realized that not only were the injections  correcting strabismus; but also temporarily smoothing his patients facial wrinkles.

In 1990 Dr. Scott sold his interest in Botox to the pharmaceutical company Allergan for $8 million. Sounds good until you know that today’s sale of the drub are more than ONE BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR – and counting.  And although it is now best known as a wrinkle eraser; Botox has been approved for use in the treatment of a variety of disorders including muscle contractures after strokes, migraine headaches, excessive sweating and incontinence and studies have shown its ability to improve even more conditions as disparate as anal fissures and depression!

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