Too many people have negative opinions about plastic surgery and those who choose to “go under the knife.” Plastic surgery may seem like it’s a cultural phenomenon that has blown up in recent years, but what many fail to realize is that it has been around for ages. Some folks have a hard time accepting plastic surgery as a norm—after all, the word plastic in itself suggests that it’s fake and unnatural, or does it?
The term plastic surgery actually does not come from the English word plastic, but from the Greek word plastikos, or if you want to get technical, πλαστικός, meaning capable of being shaped or molded. In other words, contrary to popular belief, plastic surgery doesn’t mean it literally has anything to do with the synthetic substance.
So, where did plastic surgery originate? Scholars have found that this practice dates back to at least the ancient Egyptians who performed procedures on the dead. They believed that one should be recognizable even in death and therefore stuffed items into the most prominent features—much like silicone and saline implants today. Ramses II had a small bone and a few seeds placed in his nose to keep its shape even in death. Queen Nunjment had bandages placed in her cheeks and belly, as well.
The Egyptians did not perform such procedures on the living even though they could have, likely due to the same belief that led them to do it on their dead—that one should be recognizable in the afterlife. If that’s true, when did people start performing plastic surgery on the living? The earliest record of this kind of procedure being performed on a living human being was found in ancient Indian Sanskrit texts. To repair noses or ears lost in battle or cut off for committing a crime, a piece of skin was cut from the cheek or forehead and used to reconstruct the missing piece. This practice later came to be known as “The Indian Method of Rhinoplasty.
Before the decline of plastic surgery in the Middle Ages, it became more popular due to public Roman Baths which celebrated the naked body. Those with abnormalities were shamed and therefore, the most popular forms of plastic surgery were circumcision removal, scar removal and voila! The first breast reduction surgery was performed—on a man.
If you’re thinking about plastic surgery, don’t let the idea that it’s a new, unnatural process convince you otherwise. Plastic surgery has been around for ages, and it’s here to stay!