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The History of Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery – Changes Over The Years

Plastic Surgery B.C.

The history of plastic surgery is ingrained in mankind’s desire for constant self-improvement. Constant learning and understanding has lead to an increase in efficiency and productivity. Medical treatment for facial injuries dates back over 4,000 years ago. As early as 800 B.C., physicians were using skin grafts for medical treatments in India. During the Greco-Roman period of 332 BC to roughly 600 AD, plastic surgery techniques were refined and recorded. Roman physician Aulus Cornelius Celsus wrote “De Medecina” during this time, which documented surgical methods. At the same time, Oribasius, during the Byzantine empire, compiled a medical encyclopedia titled “Synagogue Medicae” detailing reconstructive methods for repairing facial defects.

Plastic Surgery Enters The 20th Century

It was not until the first plastic surgeon, Dr. John Peter Mettauer performed the first cleft palate reconstruction in 1827 that plastic and cosmetic surgery really advanced into the 20th century.

World War I was a monumental era for plastic surgery. Between 1914 and 1918, thousands of plastic surgery procedures were performed, and techniques had to be invented on the spot as new and unseen injuries came in. Restorative procedures were extremely common, and doctors from around the world came together to save the lives of their country’s soldiers. During the years following the war, and especially during the depression, citizens began to notice how personal appearance could mean greater success in society. Surgeons were commissioned to improve aesthetic appeal. This introduction of cosmetic surgery as a means of increased self-esteem and confidence incited a huge change in society. Surgery for minor imperfections gained in popularity in Europe and North America.

Cosmetic Surgery Gains Popularity

By 1950, plastic and cosmetic surgery were both fully integrated into the field of medicine. The Korean War again brought an onslaught of plastic surgery techniques including facial and jaw-wiring and burn therapy procedures. Plastic and cosmetic surgery as we know it today really developed in the 1960s and 1970s. The use of silicone in cosmetic surgery emerged in the 1960s with great popularity. Originally used to treat skin imperfections, silicone became the base for many cosmetic surgery procedures, including breast augmentations. In 1962 the breast augmentation device was introduced by Thomas Cronin, which gave rise to cheek, chin and buttock implants. The 1980s saw plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery enter the mainstream. Procedures became more accessible across North America as consumers were exposed to more information. In the 1990s, more regulation around cosmetic and plastic surgery emerged, as popularity rose to an all time high.


Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery Today

Today, the move seems to be more towards less-invasive procedures that turn back the signs of aging. Popular procedures include Botox and other facial fillers, via injection. Creams and lotions have also advanced, providing non-surgical treatments to minor skin problems. With the emergence of cosmetic surgery ‘addicts’ and more fatalities from cosmetic surgery, some doctors are asking “how much is too much?” when it comes to alterations.


Today, plastic and cosmetic surgery is the safest and most affordable it has ever been. Often, plastic surgery saves lives and improves quality of life more many people. For more information about cosmetic and plastic surgery, breast implants and more, visit

About the Author
Da Vinci, Editor in Chief of Your Life After 25, has carved out her own position as a “Realistic Optimist,” and modern day Renaissance woman. Your Life After 25 is the women's magazine for all women, but we put a spin on things and also make sure to embrace life for ladies over 25. Whether you're 25, 30, 35, 40, 50 or older we have something for you! Your Life After 25 "Believe It Or Not, It Does Go On"
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