Plastic surgery as it exists today is a relatively new concept, but some procedures, including rhinoplasty, have roots in ancient time. Rhinoplasty has a long, rich, and fascinating history that spans thousands of years, and proves that even in ancient times, people were worried about the aesthetics of the nose. So what were the earliest rhinoplasties like? And how do we know anything about them to begin with? Are there any ancient techniques that are still used today?
The first known rhinoplasty procedures were performed in India, stretching back as far as the 6th Century BC. These initial procedures were done for reconstructive purposes, and a piece of skin from the cheek was used to build up and re-shape a new nose. This type of “flap” technique is used in many reconstructive procedures today.
Fortunately, the ayurvedic (holistic) physician who performed the surgery was an excellent record-keeper. His name was Sushruta, and he was the author of a foundational medical text known as Sushruta Samhita. There may have been other rhinoplasty procedures performed prior to this time, but Sushruta’s technique was the first ever recorded.
Back before many effective drugs were available for treating various ailments, people often became disfigured from disease that could not be stopped before it advanced. Rhinoplasty emerged in the Western world mostly due to a particularly nasty disease that was known to attack the soft tissue of the nose over time: syphilis. In fact, syphilis was so rampant, that even people who had lost their noses from other causes were often thought to have the disease.
Rhinoplasty emerged in response to the syphilis problem as a way to combat prejudice and social stigma for people who had severely disfigured noses. In the past, people who had these kinds of disfigurements were considered diseased and infectious, regardless of the cause of the disfigurement. Thus, any kind of chance at reconstruction was embraced.
Rhinoplasty has always been used for reconstruction, typically to build up a nose that has been under severe trauma and is missing tissue. In ancient rhinoplasty, techniques were rudimentary and the results unconvincing. As centuries passed, however, techniques became more refined, and results began to look more natural. Reconstructive rhinoplasty has historically been popular for repairing trauma related to illness, accident, and warfare.
Today, skilled plastic surgeons can produce stunning cosmetic and reconstructive rhinoplasty results that look very natural. With modern techniques like cartilage grafting, advanced skin flap methods, and manipulation of the nasal structure, it is possible to achieve beautiful, natural-looking results for most rhinoplasty patients. Modern rhinoplasty is a versatile procedure, and can accomplish a wide variety of goals, depending on the patient’s needs. The key is finding an experienced surgeon to perform the procedure. Rhinoplasty is still an extremely difficult surgery, despite all the modern conveniences we enjoy, so it is important to choose a facial plastic surgery specialist to perform the surgery
With the versatility of rhinoplasty today, the procedure must be customized to suit the needs of each patient. Your first step in the process is to discuss your options for rhinoplasty with a qualified, board certified facial plastic surgeon. During your consultation, you will have the opportunity to present your goals for surgery, get advice, and ask questions about the procedure.
Dr. Haitham Masri, of the Masri Clinic for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery is a triple board certified surgeon with decades of experience in helping patients reach their rhinoplasty goals. If you would like to discuss your goals for surgery with Dr. Masri, call (866) 487-3223 today to schedule your complimentary consultation.