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10 Interesting Facts about Plastic Surgery

1. Despite the popular misconception, the word "plastic" in "plastic surgery" does not mean "artificial," but is derived from the ancient Greek word "plastikos," which means to mold or give form. Thus plastic surgery means "molding or shaping surgery" – its use here has no connection with plastics in the sense of synthetic polymer material.

2. The first documented nose job was performed in 600 B.C. in ancient India. Physicians would use skin removed from either the cheek or forehead to reconstruct noses. Two polished wooden tubes would then be inserted into where the nostrils were supposed to be to keep the air passages open during healing.

3. In 1794, British surgeons witnessed an Indian brick layer repair the nose of a British cattle driver who had his nose and hand cut off while a prisoner. British surgeons then brought the procedure back to Europe where interest rapidly grew.

4. Scar removal was popular in ancient Rome. This was particularly so for scars on the back as these were considered marks of shame because they suggested a man had turned his back in battle – or worse, he had been whipped like a slave.

5. While the Egyptians did not practice extreme forms of plastic surgery on the living, they would often prepare their dead following principles of plastic surgery. For example, Ramses II's mummy was surgically altered by having a small bone and a handful of seeds inserted into his nose to ensure that his most prominent feature would be recognizable in the afterlife. The mummy of Queen Nunjmet also had bandages stuffed in her cheeks and belly in the same way that modern plastic surgeons implant silicone into a body.

6. Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery as we know today had many of its roots in World War I. The number of war invalids and disfigured victims was so overwhelming during the war that surgeons were forced to improvise and experiment, and in the course of their work they developed innovative new plastic surgery techniques

7. The first breast augmentation was performed in Germany on a singer who had a growth in her breast removed. Luckily she had a fatty growth, lipoma on her back, which was removed and transplanted to her breast.

8. The modern age of breast augmentation began in 1962 with the implant of silicone gel-filled prosthesis by Drs Cronin and Gerow. Gerow came to the idea of a silicone sack filled with liquid by observing a plastic bag filled with blood used for transfusion. He saw that it took the form of a breast and felt like one.

9. Modern liposuction, using blunt cannulas to remove fat while avoiding vital structures, was developed in France in 1977 by Dr Yves-Gerard Illouz. Dr Illouz's first patient was a young woman who had a lipoma in her back and wanted it to be removed without a scar. The operation was a success and the rest is history.

10. In an important move for both plastic surgeons and their patients, US President Bill Clinton signed a bill which required insurance companies to cover the cost of plastic surgery for women who had undergone a mastectomy. This law also covers the opposite breast - this means that the breast not involved with cancer can be reduced, lifted and even augmented to achieve symmetry between the two breasts.

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