Explanation of history of plastic surgery

  • Dr. Emese Kalnoki-Kis Courtesy

For the Monitor
Published: 8/24/2020 11:41:40 AM

What is the plastic surgery specialty and its history?

Plastic surgery is one of the broadest surgical specialties. Plastic surgeons are trained in craniofacial surgery, microsurgery, aesthetic surgery, pediatric surgery, and hand surgery. They’re trained in all tissues of the body and are able to utilize bone, muscle, skin, and fat to repair defects.

Is plastic surgery all about nose jobs and tummy tucks?

No. Only a small facet of plastic surgery involves cosmetic surgery. Plastic surgeons are first and foremost wound doctors. They’re trained to utilize tissues from one part of the body to help regain function in another, injured, part. They’re involved in breast reconstruction after the breast is removed for cancer or abdominal repair after serious infection or hernias. They’re trained to reattach limbs after a devastating trauma or heal pressure sores from prolonged illnesses. They close cleft palates and lips in children born with defects. They operate on all parts of the body. Their specialty focuses on making lives more livable.

Why is the name “plastic surgery”? Where is the plastic?

The word plastic originates from the Greek word plastikos which means to mold or to shape. The term “plastic surgery” has no correlation with the synthetic polymer that most Americans refer to as “plastic.” The term was first coined in 1818 by a German doctor by the name of Carl Ferdinand von Graefe to describe the process of molding body tissues to heal injuries on the body.

When was the first plastic surgery performed?

The first true plastic surgery was performed in India by a surgeon by the name of Sushruta in 800 BC. He developed a method of reconstructing nasal defects using tissue from the forehead, among other surgeries. Nasal amputation was unfortunately common in the ancient world because it was used as a form of punishment. Nasal reconstruction was one of the first procedures ever performed in the field of plastic surgery.

Who is the father of modern plastic surgery?

Gaspare Tagliacozzi is the father of modern plastic surgery. His famous quote best summarizes the specialty: “We repair and restore that which Nature has given, but Fortune has taken away. Not so that it please the eye of the beholder, but so that it buoy the spirit of the afflicted.”

Dr. Emese Kalnoki-Kis a board-certified plastic surgeon at Concord Plastic Surgery. She specializes in reconstructive and aesthetic surgery of the breast and body. Dr. Kalnoki-Kis recently presented on plastic surgery at Concord Hospital Trust “What’s Up Doc?” Donor Lecture Series. The monthly series features members of Concord Hospital’s medical staff speaking to Concord Hospital Trust donors about new and innovative medical treatments and services. You can watch Dr. Kalnoki-Kis’ presentation on Concord Hospital’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/concordhospital.

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