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Plastic Surgery Throughout Human History

Written by Mahee Mishra

Edited by Shania Sheth and Jocelyn Wang

Hello everyone! To end our Surgery series, here is our Plastic Surgery article by Mahee! This article covers the history of plastic surgery, and how it has evolved to the present day. Happy reading!


Plastic surgery has existed since 800 BC. Since then, people have pursued facial perfection through facial surgeries (nose reconstruction with the use of forehead flaps) and skin grafting. Considering this was a long time ago, modern science and safe surgery was not in use, meaning complications in health were very high. Even now, health complications after plastic surgery exist but are usually rare unless the plastic surgeons are not experienced, or the topic is not fully discussed between the doctor and the patient. Now let’s dive into the history of plastic surgery, from its invention to the present day.

Plastic surgery, first discovered in 800 BC, started to be done in India and Egypt. At the time procedures such as ‘nose jobs’ were being developed and eventually, this practice was taken to western doctors in the 1700s. As European doctors got more knowledgeable about this practice, it was modernized to the one known today. However, plastic surgery was not widely used until the nearing 1800s. In 1794, the first skin grafting procedure began to be widely used, leading to the evolution of plastic surgery. It is important to take note that in the years of the 1800s to 1900s, an increase in wars caused many injuries requiring plastic surgery to soldiers. At this time, the practice of plastic surgery did not have any formal training or main organizations such as The American Society of Plastic Surgeons and The American Board of Plastic Surgery. This meant that plastic surgery had high complications in blood loss, hematoma (pockets of blood), infections and also inner organ damage due to dirty medical instruments, less knowledge in the field etc. These complications can occur now as well but considering the fact that training and associations weren’t created until long after plastic surgery was first discovered says that complications were even higher then.

WW1 Plastic Surgery

Now, plastic surgery has been brought into the public light and has formed certified organizations to ensure safety and the wellbeing of their patients. One instance is the injuries caused by World War II that were attended to by plastic surgery. At that time, plastic surgery began to be more commonly used to treat traumatic injuries. Eventually, plastic surgery was not only used for injuries, but also for people who wished to alter parts of their faces or body by getting facial surgeries such as rhinoplasty, breast surgery, and even fat removal. Let’s take a look at celebrities who got rhinoplasty. Ashley Tisdale, the star in The High School Musical, discussed getting rhinoplasty done due to a deviated septum which resulted in her having trouble breathing. In some cases, plastic surgery is done due to health problems, but in others it can be done because of one’s own wish. For example, Diana Argon, a star in Glee, expressed getting rhinoplasty done as her own wish. As plastic surgery has gotten developed through the years it has been done for not only injuries/health issues, but also based on one’s own wish. Whatever must be the reason, it is important to keep note that it should not be shamed.

Before and After Plastic Surgery

Kim Kardashian

As a whole, plastic surgery has come through a huge history from thousands of years, making it one of the earth’s oldest healing art. The development of plastic surgery has come a long way to the industry known today. However, as stated before, complications in plastic surgery are not as high as before but can still occur today. It is essential to do a lot of research and talk to as many doctors as you can to ensure your safety and health after these procedures. Your body is very precious and should be taken care of before any type of surgery.


Thanks for reading the second article in our Surgery series! We hope you learned about plastic surgery, and about the changes the field has undergone as time has passed.

If you enjoyed this article, check out our first Surgery article on the History of Surgery, by Natalie Samara.

Until next time,

Mahee and the Writing Committee :)


Admin. (2021, July 5). The origin of plastic surgery: Where does the term come from? Dr. Markarian. Retrieved July 26, 2022, from

Schaefer, A. (2019, April 27). 10 common plastic surgery complications: Hematoma, infection, more. Healthline. Retrieved July 26, 2022, from

Korin Miller. Korin Miller is a freelance writer specializing in general wellness. (2019, June 11). 6 celebs talk openly about their nose jobs. Women's Health. Retrieved August 15, 2022, from

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