What a Nose Knows: A History of Rhinoplasty

by Andrew Clayman
01/18/08


If you've seen your local super market's tabloid headlines and think “celebrity nose jobs” are unique to the modern age, think again! In Hollywood, nose jobs have been a regular part of “looking the part” since the days of silent film, and the actual procedure of rhinoplasty dates back more than 2,000 years!

According to historians, the earliest known rhinoplasties were conducted in India around 500 B.C., and were pioneered by one of the world's great, innovative physicians, Sushruta. Rather than sculpting noses for the silver screen, however, Sushruta's rhinoplasty work was developed to help reconstruct noses for people who'd been deformed or had their noses amputated as a form of criminal punishment. Over the centuries, the practice was passed down and honed, but amazingly, many of Sushruta's techniques are still used in forehead flap rhinoplasty operations to this day!

When it comes to cosmetic surgery, however, it wasn't until the late 19th century that physicians began exploring the use of rhinoplasty for aesthetic enhancement. The Prussian-born surgical innovator Jacques Joseph is widely credited for conducting some of the earliest intranasal, cosmetic nose enhancement surgeries in the 1890s. It was his belief that, while cosmetic surgery may not be a necessity in life, the minimal risks involved are completely worthwhile, when one considers the great benefits in self confidence and happiness that simple aesthetic improvements can bring.

Like everything else over the past century, advanced technology has made rhinoplasty surgeries easier and more successful than ever before. Not surprisingly then, more and more people, whether they're celebrities or not, are taking advantage of the surgical principles first developed a couple of millennia ago, and carefully perfected in the quest for aesthetic satisfaction.

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