Think that plastic surgery is a construct of our modern age’s obsession with appearance? On the contrary, the desire to enhance one’s physical beauty extends all the way back to ancient times. In fact, the Indian medical text known as the Sushruta Samhita features one of the earlier examples of plastic surgery instruction.
Dr. Acharya Sushruta published the Sushruta Samhita, a foundational text of the Ayurveda, India’s natural healing system, in 600 B.C. Along with providing general medical information, the book offers various tips for performing plastic and reconstructive surgeries. One of the best-known passages in the Sushruta Samhita provides instruction on performing a rhinoplasty, also known as a nose job:
“Then a piece of skin of the required size should be dissected from the living skin of the cheek, and turned back to cover the nose, keeping a small pedicle attached to the cheek. The part of the nose to which the skin is to be attached should be made raw by cutting the nasal stump with a knife.”
Additionally, the Sushruta Samhita offers tips for treating wounds with leeches, reconstructing earlobes using cheek flaps, and performing hundreds of other surgical procedures. The book also emphasizes the fact that plastic surgeons should seek training in related fields to increase their overall proficiency and touches on the plastic surgery principles of accuracy, precision, economy and perfection.
Sushruta’s students were expected to complete six years of training before practicing medicine. Further, the manuscript offers details on more than a thousand illnesses and lists various types of drugs as well as surgical tools. Because of these contributions, Sushruta is still known as the father of Indian surgery.
Although these surgical techniques were first practiced in the 6th century BC, studies show that they continued to affect Western medicine for years to come. In particular, Sushruta’s work with nasal reconstruction impacted doctors throughout Renaissance Italy and even into the modern era. In fact, in 1794, the Gentleman’s Magazine of London reported on a nose reconstruction that involved techniques similar to those suggested in the Sushruta.
Clearly, the desire to enhance one’s physical appearance is not a new one. Whether you’re interested in one of the many procedures discussed in the Sushruta Samhita or another newer treatment, it’s important to do your research and choose the best option for you, regardless of what anyone else thinks.
If you or anyone you know would like more information about plastic surgery, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!