It may come as little surprise to learn that rhinoplasty, or nose surgery, is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures performed today. But did you know it is also one of the oldest surgical procedures on record?
With origins in ancient Egypt and ancient India, rhinoplasty has evolved over thousands of years. Remarkably, ancient medical texts point to the development of sophisticated techniques to repair and reconstruct broken noses hundreds, even thousands, of years BCE. Susrata, a Hindu physician and surgeon in India, is credited for developing the procedure in about 500 BCE. During his time, people accused of crimes were often punished with disfigurement. Susrata and his students treated the criminal segment of the population, applying surgical methods for the nose that are still used today. Thousands of years after his published methods were originally published, Susrata’s surgical techniques were subsequently translated into Arabic (700s CE) and English (1700s CE).
In the sixteenth century, other methods were forged. In the 1500s, Italian physician and surgeon Gasparo Tagliacozzi also laid groundwork for contemporary rhinoplasty, working with soldiers suffering from facial wounds. During his medical career at the University of Bologna, he became widely known for his expertise and his advancement of reconstructive surgery techniques.
In the early applications of the procedure, rhinoplasty was used to address deformation due to accident or punishment. As the surgical techniques progressed, the rhinoplasty began to be used to modify the shape of the nose for aesthetic purposes. The first modern rhinoplasty was performed in the late nineteenth century and the procedure has secured its place as a routine and commonly elected cosmetic surgery.
Although rhinoplasty is regularly performed and is quite safe, the procedure is far from simple. Surgical skill–guided by an artist eye–is needed to achieve natural-looking and well-proportioned results. If inexpertly performed, a rhinoplasty can lead to unwanted complications, necessitating a revision, be or secondary rhinoplasty to correct the irregularity.
A cosmetic surgeon must be able to accurately judge the amount of cartilage or be bone that needs to be removed or adjusted, preserve the structural integrity of the nose, and remain mindful of the aesthetic implications of every move. If too much tissue is removed, for example, it can lead structural collapse and obstructed nasal passages. If the shape is not modified enough or sculpted inexactly, the outcome can be disappointing.
People decide to have a rhinoplasty for a variety of reasons and each person’s decision is highly personal. Some people may pursue a rhinoplasty to straighten or smooth a minor bump in the nose. Others may be motivated to undergo rhinoplasty to make a more substantive change to the size and form of the nose. For those with a deviated septum, a nose surgery may offer multiple benefits, addressing functional as well as cosmetic concerns. A unifying thread, however, is the desire to bring the nose into greater balance with the rest of the face. Whatever the specific complaint, when expectations are realistic, a rhinoplasty can help individuals improve their appearance and increase their confidence.