You may think that plastic surgery is a product of the 20th century, but it actually has a long history that goes back thousands of years. While the ancient forms were primarily for reconstructive purposes, there is evidence that Hollywood did not create the need for cosmetic procedures.
The name comes from the Greek word "plastikos" and it means to shape. Thousands of years ago, surgeons in India were performing reconstructive plastic surgery. Mostly, these procedures consisted of skin grafts to repair damage to the face and other parts of the body. The very first medical manual written on the subject came about sometime between 323 BC and 27 BC Aulus Cornelius Celsus' manual, De Medicina, addressed repairing the lips, nose and ears.
Because of changing beliefs and a prohibitive order by the Church, advancements stopped during the Middle Ages. Interest was renewed during the Renaissance and this led to the development of new and safer techniques in plastic surgery. The 1400s saw a new text written about breast reduction and surgery of the mouth, jaw and eyelids.
The most important advances possibly came about because of war and necessity. New and more devastating weapons were being used during WWI and they were causing serious facial and head trauma. Field surgeons had no shortage of wounded soldiers to develop and perfect new plastic surgery techniques.
It was also during this time that the first purely aesthetic surgeries occurred. Rhinoplasty and breast augmentation were the first procedures to emerge in this new area of cosmetic plastic surgery. Surgeons also began to understand and make improvements in the areas of sedation and infection control which went hand in hand with their reconstructive procedures.
The early 1900s saw plastic surgery become an officially recognized field in surgical specialties. The first journal, Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, was published in 1946. This was an important step in the advancement of the field as it provided an outlet for surgeons across the country share ideas and techniques in their community.
Standards for certification were also devised during this time. Since WWII, this field of medicine has only flourished. Advances in technology allow for safe, fast and effective procedures. The 60s saw perhaps the most famous and infamous development-the silicon breast implant. Because of stringent research and a dedication to safety, the FDA and the field of plastic surgery can once again use silicone for breast augmentation.
It is research like this that continues to be done so that procedures can be performed in the best manner possible. Combination procedures such as the body lift and new techniques such as energy-assisted liposuction have all emerged as a result of the continuous research in the field. The patient only benefits from these advances.
For the person wanting to benefit from this age-old profession, it is important that she verify her surgeon's credentials. He should be board certified and licensed to practice. Choosing a surgeon who specializes in a specific procedure is also beneficial to the patient. As evidenced through history, this is a well-established field and also widely used. As long as the patient feels comfortable with the surgeon, there's no reason for her to put off having plastic surgery to improve her life.