Article. ‘The rise and rise of plastic surgery’

Excerpt from article. ‘The Rise and Rise of Plastic Surgery’.  Published 2012.  Nip Tuck Magazine

Interest in, or if you like, obsession with beauty is not new. It has been a fundamental part of human nature since time began. As we strive to invent and prosper, our pursuit of self-fulfillment across mind, body and spirit is constant. For thousands of years, the quest for beauty has been sustained through our rapid evolution.  Human beings continue to gaze upon themselves; poking, stretching, stitching, binding, and masking that which they already have. All with the intent to make things tighter, flatter, bigger, smaller, darker, lighter.  To morph into something other than what we are. Or were.

The foundations of the ‘art’ of plastic surgery can be found in the definition. The word plastic appeared around the 17th century and in its simplest form means ‘to mold’. My favourite comes from the science and technology definition (Oxford), ‘..of or relating to the permanent deformation of a solid without fracture by the temporary application of force..’ I guess this is where the surgery part comes in.

Earliest recordings of plastic surgery come out of India, around 2000 BC. At a time when nose amputation was used as a form of punishment, the need for reconstructions became paramount. Rhinoplasty remained a popular technique through to the Renaissance, as the syphilis epidemic took hold and these virulent bacteria caused severe disfigurements – that is if it didn’t kill first. Skin grafts from facial tissues were used, inspired by the early Indian procedures, and eventually more distant sources of human tissue were successfully trialed. We have little to thank World War I for, but plastic surgery is certainly on the list. As limbs were blasted off, and bodies were burned, surgeons from across the globe had to find new and innovative ways to patch up never before seen wounds and injuries. Previously undiscovered talents were unearthed, and medical sculptors of the world have sat back and reaped the rewards ever since.

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