Rhinoplasty: A Historic Timeline

The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery reported that people spent a total of $223.3 million on rhinoplasty surgeries in 2012. AAFPRS surgeons performed more than 40,000 rhinoplasty surgeries during the year. The “nose job” is the most popular surgical procedure for both men and women under the age of 35.

Rhinoplasty is also one of the oldest cosmetic surgeries. The procedure dates back thousands of years to the Ancient Egyptians who detailed repairing nasal fractures through rhinoplasty. Since then, the procedure has seen many advancements.

Origins of Rhinoplasty

One of the first recorded descriptions of rhinoplasty dates back to 500 BC when a Hindu surgeon named Sushruta wrote about his use of forehead skin to form a new nose. The surgery proved useful in repairing the damage caused to the nose by syphilis. Sushruta’s guide was translated into Arabic in the 700s and then English in the 1700s. Surgeons used methods similar to Sushruta’s to repair damage to the nose from accidents, battle injuries, and disease until the late 1800s.

Advancements in Rhinoplasty

The first recorded rhinoplasty took place in 1887. Dr. John Roe used the intranasal technique on his first surgery, but another surgeon would become the “father of facial plastic surgery.”

Jacques Joseph served as an assistant to Dr. Julius Wolff in 1892. The mother of a young boy approached Joseph to ask if there was a way to decrease the size of her son’s ears, a procedure known as otoplasty. He was being taunted by classmates and would not go to school due to their cruel comments. He decided a surgery was possible, but tested his theories before agreeing to work on a live patient. After testing his work on cadavers and eventually performing the procedure successfully on the boy, Joseph was fired from his position. Dr. Wolff felt Joseph threatened his reputation by being a risk taker. While Joseph no longer had a job, he’d reported his findings to the Berlin Medical Society, and other surgeons took note.

Working on his own, Dr. Joseph performed his second facial plastic surgery on a man who was embarrassed by the size of his nose. Joseph again used cadavers to perfect the procedure before trying it on a living person. In 1898, he reported his findings to the Berlin Medical Society again, this time focusing on the psychological benefits to these cosmetic surgeries.

Dr. Roe hadn’t disappeared from sight, however. The surgeon was trained in otolaryngology and was the first to record the surgical removal of the endonasal hump. He also pioneered the use of a spring wire to splint the nose internally following a rhinoplasty.

Headed for the Future

While some of the tools used in rhinoplasty have advanced over the years, the procedures themselves have changed very little. This doesn’t mean there haven’t been impressive advancements in some situations.

A 22-year-old man from China suffered an infection following a car accident recently. The infection that set in damaged the man’s nasal tissue. With a severe lack of tissue to work with, surgeons set to work using tissue expanders beneath a section of skin on the forehead. Over months, the nose took shape and remained attached to the blood supply on the man’s forehead. Plans are to use rib cartilage to provide the structure for the new nose when it is transplanted.

Watch the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery’s Rhinoplasty Overview. Once you understand the basics to the cosmetic surgery, talk to Dr. Sheldon Kabaker, an Oakland facial plastic surgeon, about the benefits of rhinoplasty. He’ll discuss the costs and show you what he can do to improve the features you dislike. Dr. Kabaker was the first surgeon to perform open (external) rhinoplasty in California starting in April of 1980. Reach Dr. Sheldon’s office by calling (415) 379-9015.

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