Cosmetic surgery is seen as a somewhat new phenomenon; with the advent of safe surgical practices and techniques in the 20th century, the practice has only improved over time. Sometimes cosmetic surgery gets a bad rap because people misunderstand what goes into it; these days, the procedures we engage in are extremely safe and well considered. As it turns out, surgical procedures for modifying appearance have been around for millennia, and back in the day they were not nearly so safe.
One of the oldest known texts about cosmetic surgery is from Ancient Egypt, during the time the pyramids were being built. Reconstructive and cosmetic surgeries could also be found in India as early as 800 BC, and Arabic translations of those texts were available as early as 750 BC. Suffice to say, a lot of cultures have been performing cosmetic surgeries for a long time. During those eras, the surgeries would have been excruciatingly painful; there was no anesthetic available, and the techniques would have involved skin grafting, including the use of forehead flaps to reconstruct the nose, a practice which is still used (fortunately, with anesthetic) sometimes today.
In the 16th century, English barbers also acted as surgeons; thankfully, a license to cut hair is no longer a license to conduct medical procedures. These barbers would perform forehead flap rhinoplasties as well as rhinoplasties using flesh from the arm; during the recovery period, the person’s arm would remain attached to their nose so the graft could be successful. These procedures became wildly popular because British culture at that time had a strong emphasis on looks; they believed how you looked on the outside was a reflection of how you look on the inside.
In the 19th century, leaps and bounds were made in the science of surgery; first, because functional anesthetics were synthesized, and then because sterile practices were developed to reduce hospital borne infection in patients. These developments lead to a boom in cosmetic surgery practices; not all of these practices were well constructed, however! Paraffin wax was sometimes used in rhinoplasty in order to shape the nose; this was quite problematic because the wax could move throughout the face, causing disfigurement and health problems.
Fortunately, the days of unsafe, impractical and dangerous cosmetic surgery are over. Nowadays, cosmetic procedures can be performed without even using anesthetic, because the processes will often be performed with blunt instruments or lasers. Stem cells are another amazing contribution to cosmetic surgery, and other injectables mean precise cosmetic work can be done with little more than a needle. A Beverly Hills botox procedure can be done in less time than it takes to see a blockbuster movie; you can look like a star in no time, with little risk to your health. The Dark Ages of cosmetic surgery are over; safe, effective and incredible cosmetic procedures are at your fingertips.