While you might picture plastic surgery as a modern development, doctors actually practiced certain procedures thousands of years ago. In fact, the first documented plastic surgery occurred in 600 B.C. when a Hindu surgeon reconstructed a nose with a cheek segment. With such a long history, it’s not surprising that many popular cosmetic procedures have changed over the years.


When Doctors Jean and Alastair Carruthers first discovered the wrinkle-smoothing effects of Botox in 1987, many people were understandably suspicious. Yet this small dose of toxin has gone on to become one of the most popular cosmetic procedures in North America as well as a billion-dollar industry. Even before doctors used Botox for cosmetic procedures, this substance helped calm uncontrollable blinking and eye spasms. Today, Botox is also used to help prevent migraines, treat urinary incontinence, reduce pain from tennis elbow, treat excessive sweating, and more.

Breast Augmentation

Doctors have injected substances such as animal fat, paraffin, and industrial silicone into women’s chests to make them larger since the 1800s. Yet the first augmentation surgery using silicone breast implants didn’t happen until 1962. At that time, Timmie Jean Lindsey received implants to go from a B cup to a C cup. Today, breast augmentation is the most popular cosmetic surgery in the United States and Europe. Somewhere between 5 and 10 million women around the world have had the surgery for a variety of reasons, including reconstruction, cosmetic, and gender transition.

Skin Grafting

In simple terms, skin grafting involves moving skin and tissue from one part of the body to another. In both ancient and modern medicine, skin grafting is an important part of reconstructing defected skin. These defects can occur when doctors remove a malignant tumor, replace tissue lost from a burn, help an ulcer that won’t heal, or assist patients with hair loss.


Rhinoplasty, also known as a nose job, is perhaps one of the oldest known forms of plastic surgery, as it originated in 600 B.C. Rhinoplasty was a common surgery by 1000, and in the 16th century, Gaspare Tagliacozzi, credited as the father of plastic surgery, routinely reconstructed noses by using skin from the upper arm. Today, plastic surgeons like Dr. Honrado perform rhinoplasty to reshape noses to fix breathing problems and improve quality of life.

Cleft Lip and Palate Closure

The first documented occurrence of a successful cleft lip closure happened in China in 390 B.C. While historians know that ancient Greek and Egyptian doctors developed advanced medical practices for their time, there are no recorded cleft operations from that time period. There are several descriptions of successful cleft lip operations through the Middle Ages, but the first successful cleft palate operation didn’t happen until 1816. Many doctors believe this is because without anesthetic, this procedure was simply too painful. Since the discovery of chloroform, however, cleft lip surgeries have made impressive progress.

These five cosmetic procedures have evolved considerably from where they started into what they are today. Even better, these procedures have helped countless people beyond their original aim.

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