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The History of Cosmetic Surgery: Part 2

The wide availability and acceptance of cosmetic surgery by our culture is a relatively new phenomenon in comparison to the earliest recorded operations for rhinoplasty (nose job) circa 600 BC. But, cosmetic surgery was not limited to noses. The first recorded abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) surgery was 1899, with the first recorded facelift in 1901. Just how cosmetic surgery made the leap from reconstructing noses lost in sword fights to more aesthetic procedures like the tummy tuck and facelift is both interesting and pragmatic. World War I required soldiers to perform most of their duties in trenches that left the person’s face and upper body exposed to injuries from shrapnel and gunfire. As always, necessity is the mother of invention. This meant that many of the wounded had to live with significant disfigurements. Medical pioneer Dr. Delf Gillies invented many techniques to both reconstruct facial features and make those features more “normal.” Eventually, after the conclusion of the World War I, this field of medicine began to take hold beyond just necessities; and, instead of wounded soldiers, cosmetic surgeons performed most procedures on women by the early 1920’s. If we fast-forward about 90 years, women are still the majority of cosmetic surgery patients, but men are seeking cosmetic surgery at a quickly increasing rate.

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