Though rhinoplasty today is a refined technique which utilizes advanced equipment and surgical skill, the procedure itself has been performed for thousands of years. Plastic surgery may seem like a recent development, but the truth is that people have needed reconstructive surgery in every era throughout history. Though the progression of rhinoplasty techniques was slow up until the 20th century, the procedure has roots further back than 800 BC. Have you ever wondered who is said to have performed the first documented rhinoplasty? You’re about to find out.
800-600 BC: India
The first extensively documented instances of rhinoplasty took place in ancient India. A surgeon named Sushruta performed reconstructive nasal surgery on people who had lost or damaged body parts as punishment, as part of rituals, or in accidents. Some of Sushruta’s techniques are still used today in adapted forms (e.g. such as a forehead flap for cancer reconstruction). Ancient Egyptians also performed rhinoplasty prior to this time, but Sushruta’s work was more completely documented and innovative.
16th Century: The Roman Empire
Not much happened to advance rhinoplasty during this time, although the procedure was still used for reconstructive purposes.
The Western world began to adopt and adapt Sushruta’s techniques for free-flap reconstructive rhinoplasty. German surgeons experimented with techniques, and were the first to anesthetize patients during the procedure.
Surgeons began performing septoplasty and perfecting the open surgical technique. Oddly, this technique did not catch on for many years, despite its success. Early attempts at non-surgical nasal shaping also appeared during this time, but were deemed unsafe as surgeons used paraffin wax. War wounds and Hollywood vanity increased the popularity of cosmetic nasal surgery during this time.
Modern techniques, sanitation, imaging, and anesthesia make rhinoplasty safer than ever. Excellent outcomes are attainable with a skilled and artistic surgeon. The first modern rhinoplasty was credited to Dr. Jacque Joseph.
We’ve come a long way since Sushruta was operating, but rhinoplasty is still a difficult art to master and should not be left in the hands of amateurs. Be sure to do your research and select a respected, board-certified rhinoplasty specialist for your surgery. If you’re looking for options in the Boston area, Dr. Stuart Bentkover of Bentkover Facial Plastic Surgery offers compassionate care, extensive experience, and an artistic touch to ensure superior results for his patients.