Plastic surgery has become such a part of the American landscape that it is hard to imagine that the field originated less than one hundred years ago. There was life before the Internet, and there was life before cosmetic surgery.
Early efforts using skin grafts date back as far as 800 B.C. However, plastic surgery as we now know it began during and after WWI when the surgeons of the time were confronted with soldiers with extensive facials wounds from low velocity missiles- missing noses, missing lips, shattered jaws and damaged eyelids. They found themselves where no medicine men had ever been before. There were no principles guiding these pioneers in their efforts. So it fell to them to invent them. Their courage and imagination gave birth to plastic and reconstructive surgery. One century later their names and their accomplishments are revered by those of us in the field.
Soon after the war, the application of these principles was applied in Europe to improve the appearance of those who were considered “disfigured” by their large noses and their deformed faces. Plastic surgery made its way to America in the 1940’s. It was initially hidden from view and reserved for the wealthy and famous. Now it is available to people of all walks of life, both sexes and all ages. In some communities it is now so common as to be considered a right of passage. Yet, in spite of its commonplace acceptance, there is still much misinformation and mystery about plastic surgery.