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Plastic Surgery History, as Told by One of the Best Plastic Surgeons in Illinois

March 1, 2022
Dr. George Moynihan

Dr. George T. Moynihan acknowledges that without yesteryear’s pioneers of plastic surgery, he wouldn’t be one of the best plastic surgeons in Illinois today.

The fact is, modern surgeons owe their practice to the innovative minds who first set out to heal injuries and correct the abnormalities that nature gave us. In this article, we’d therefore like to explore the rich history of plastic surgery that paved the way for today’s best plastic surgeons in Illinois.

Ancient Egypt and India

As far back as 1600 BCE, ancient Egyptian physicians were repairing broken noses and fractures. We know this thanks to the Edwin Smith Papyrus, the oldest known medical text concerning the surgical treatment of fractures, dislocations, and other types of injuries.

Later, physicians in ancient India invented techniques that would gradually evolve into the complex procedures today’s best plastic surgeons in Illinois use. A 6th century BCE physician named Sushruta, in particular, made such enormous contributions to the field of plastic surgery that he’s now known as the “Father of Surgery” and “Father of Plastic Surgery.” One of his most influential techniques was an early version of the skin graft involving cutting a leaf-shaped flap out of forehead skin, then inverting this flap over the damaged nose to form the new nose.

Thanks to such developments, ancient Indians were already using skin grafts to reconstruct damaged tissue around 800 BCE.

The Classical Era: Arabia and the Mediterranean

In the 1st century BCE, Roman encyclopedist Aulus Cornelius Celsus wrote the book, De Medicina, which described reconstructive surgical treatments of noses and ears—procedures that would one day become the more complex rhinoplasty and otoplasty surgeries the best plastic surgeons in Illinois perform.

In 750 CE, during the Abbasid Caliphate, Sushruta’s book, Sushruta Samhita, was translated into Arabic. These translations would eventually be brought to Europe.

The Middle Ages and the Renaissance

The development of surgical techniques slowed to a crawl during the Middle Ages due to the spread of religion and mysticism.

Then, in the 1400s, Serafeddin Sabuncuoglu wrote the Islamic text, Imperial Surgery, which discussed eyelid surgery—what today’s best plastic surgeons in Illinois call a blepharoplasty.

Also around this time, Italy’s Branca family discovered Sushruta’s techniques, allowing them to perform early rhinoplasties.

In the 1500s, Gaspare Tagliacozzi improved the Brancas’ technique. The enhanced method became so popular it spread throughout Europe.

The Modern Era

Towards the end of the 18th century, Sushruta’s writings once again inspired European physicians, leading to the widespread use of skin grafts. Then, in 1869, Geneva’s Jacques Reverdin and Paris’ Jean Casimir Felix Guyon started developing enhanced skin grafting techniques, some of which are still being used today by the best plastic surgeons in Illinois.

Meanwhile, in the United States, John Peter Mettauer performed the world’s first cleft palate surgery in 1827.

The 1900s

The early 1900s saw many American physicians publishing important documents, including the first medical text dedicated to cosmetic surgery, Charles Miller’s The Correction of Featural Imperfections.

At Johns Hopkins, William Stewart created the United States’ first training program dedicated to general surgery. This would be instrumental in the advancement of plastic surgery in the country.

Due to the horrific injuries many soldiers suffered during the First and Second World Wars, physicians developed even more complex plastic surgery techniques, including the “tubed pedicled graft”—a skin grafting method that involved cutting tube-shaped tissue out of a source site, then transplanting said tissue onto the area requiring treatment.

In 1942 at the Queen Victoria Hospital, Harold Gilles and Archibald McIndoe used an improved version of this method to treat airmen suffering from severe facial burns after fighting in World War II’s Battle of Britain. This fascinated the media, whose coverage of the operations informed the public of the necessity of plastic surgery.

In 1946, the Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery published its first issue. Today, it is trusted by the best plastic surgeons in Illinois as a source of knowledge about all things plastic surgery.

Today

Thanks to the efforts and innovations of physicians past, the best plastic surgeons in Illinois today now have access to state-of-the-art surgical technologies and techniques. Whether you want your aging facial skin lifted, tightened, and rejuvenated, or an abnormal-looking nose reshaped, resized, and repositioned, trust that plastic surgery can now provide effective solutions to a broad range of issues.

If you have any questions about plastic surgery or would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Moynihan, one of the best plastic surgeons in Illinois, please call (312) 736-7771.

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