First the definition of Plastic Surgery is: Surgical repair of congenital or acquired deformities and the restoration of contour to improve the appearance and function of tissue defects. Development of this specialized branch of surgery received impetus from the need to repair gross deformities sustained in World War I. By the grafting of tissue or the use of artificial materials such as silicone, some remarkable restorations have become possible. Severe burns and the removal of fairly extensive skin cancers leave scars that must be covered by skin grafts; breast reconstruction after mastectomy is another application. In addition to correcting a disfigurement, plastic surgery is often needed to restore vital movement and function of tissues that have been destroyed. It is also performed for purely cosmetic purposes, such as improving the shape of a nose, bringing outstanding ears closer to the head, or lifting the skin to erase wrinkles. Modern plastic surgeons often employ CAT scans to produce computer-generated images that are used to plan or simulate complex reconstructive surgeries.
The very first descriptions of skin grafts date back to India circa 800 B.C., where they served to obstruct the facial hole resulting from nose amputations. During the Renaissance, Ambroise Paré developed the art of suture, leaving records in which he describes both the instruments and the technique employed. In the 19th century, new methods for operating were developed, ending earlier rudimentary and painful procedures. However, at that time the Catholic Church was strongly opposed to the advancement of science in general, and specifically opposed remodeling the human form. But in the 20th century, when Europe was confronted with the seriously mutilated faces of soldiers returning from the fronts of WWI, the imperative to repair them grew, and plastic surgery finally gained a respectable place in the medical profession.
Then World War II came and once again, plastic surgeons used their skills to help their countrymen. This led to more plastic surgery advances. Then by the 1950s, plastic surgery was fully integrated into the medical community. In the 1960s, the concept of plastic surgery grew in the consciousness of the American public as more physicians performed plastic surgery procedures. Plus in this decade, silicone started being used in plastic surgery and started becoming a part of our culture. Now in the 1970s, the plastic surgeon became one of the leading medical professions. And in the 1980s, plastic surgery was expanding all over the country. By the 1990s, there thousands of board-certified plastic surgeons and the numbers continue to grow, even today. Now there are thousands of plastic surgeons, offering a variety of plastic surgery procedures to patients not just in the United States, but all over the world.
Plastic surgery were it once was just for the very rich has become affordable for almost all Americans. Plastic surgery has truly come a long way and continues to make advancements in the complexity of procedures performed today.