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History of Plastic Surgery in India

Plastic Surgery

Arising from the main stem of medicine and surgery, Plastic Surgery is a branch with great antiquity. Also sometimes termed as ‘reconstructive surgery’, plastic surgery deals with the reconstruction or repair of tissues following destruction or defects either acquired or congenital.

The roots of reconstructive procedures go back to more than 2500 years. The word ‘plastic' is derived from the Greek verb meaning ‘to mold' or ‘form'. The history of plastic surgery in ancient Greece and Rome was relatively bound up with the development of simple plastic surgeries that repaired the damaged parts of the body caused by punishment and war mutilation.

Plastic Surgery in India- The Roots

The history of plastic surgery in India finds its roots more than four thousand years ago, back to the Indus River Civilization. In the era of the Vedic period (5000 B.C.); Ayurveda originated in India.

The concept of Ayurveda is a compilation of four Vedas (texts) namely:
  • Rigveda
  • Samaveda
  • Yajurveda
  • Atharvaveda

Atharva Veda, the classic text of Indian medical knowledge in India includes two influential texts: Charaka Samhita deals with the medicinal aspects while Sushruta Samhita deals with the details of operative techniques including rhinoplasty.

Sushruta: The Father of Plastic Surgery

Sushruta was the first individual to introduce the basic principles of plastic surgery through ancient Indian Medicine. Sushruta acquired the medicinal knowledge from Guru Dhanwantri.

‘Sushruta Samhita’, is the famous ancient treatise written by Sushruta. He has vividly illustrated cheek flap reconstruction of the nose, cut earlobe repair, cut lip repair and skin grafting in the treatise.

His writings comprised of the basic concept of plastic surgery which included perfection, precision, and planning. Sushruta illustrated different types of reconstructive techniques and defects such as skin release to cover small defects, covering skin loss by pedicle flaps and flap rotation to make up for any partial loss.

Sushruta performing ear lobe reconstruction

Rhinoplasty operation was one of the greatest highlights of his work. The technique of making a new nose illustrated by Sushruta was well recognized. In regard to cosmetic surgery, it is believed that Sushruta could reconstruct earlobes and also had enumerated fifteen to repair them. He also detailed pre and post-operative procedures.
Few of his contributions in the field of plastic surgery is as follows:
  • Ø Rhinoplasty
  • Ø Repair of lip injuries and congenital cleft lip
  • Ø Cheek flap for reconstruction of the absent ear lobe
  • Ø Classification of mutilated ear lobe defects and techniques for the repair
Frank McDowell evoked Sushruta in The Source Book of Plastic Surgery as follows:
Moreover, an eminent surgeon Whipple noted that “All in all, Sushruta must be considered the greatest surgeon of the pre-medieval period.”

Evolution of Plastic Surgery in India

The very second rhinoplasty method was performed by Tilemakers which involved the use of a buttock graft.

During the 4th century, Ashtanga Hridyans and Ashtanga Sangraha were written by Vaghbat, which illustrated Maharishi Atreya’s rhinoplasty procedure.

In the 15th century, the knowledge of rhinoplasty which originated in India had spread from Arabia, Egypt to Italy.

In 1889, “Rhinoplasty” written by Tribhovandas Motichand Shah and in 1900, “Rhinoplasty operations” written by Keegan were published in India at the end of the 19th century which contributed a lot. Still today, the West credits the technique of rhinoplasty in India by calling it ‘The Indian Rhinoplasty’.

The modern world of plastic surgery in India began after 1945. Sir Harold Gillies, B.K. Rank, and Eric Peet and owe a great deal in the development of this specialty. Amidst all these events, the very first Plastic Surgery Departments were established in 1950; one supervised by Dr. R. N. Sinha at Patna and the other was supervised by Dr. C. Balakrishnan at Nagpur. 

 Plastic Surgery in India- In the Modern World

“It is good to hark back to the olden days and gratefully recall the men whose labors in the past have made the present possible.”

-Osler, William, Aequanimitas

Regardless of its origins, plastic surgery today is firmly entrenched in our collective psyche that if parts cannot be made in flesh they can be made in artificial material. 

Nowadays, medical science of plastic surgery is frequently misunderstood as most people think plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery are synonymous. With the growing shift in the perception of beauty, more and more people are going under the knife to enhance their features.

Plastic surgeons in India have contributed in numerous ways by designing new instruments and research publications. Today, there are many plastic surgery training centers across the country. Numerous plastic surgeons and students are serving the community.

Moreover, a lot of people from other countries are opting for their plastic surgeries in India due to the cost-effective infrastructure.

India’s rapid rise in the growth and advancement in various fields of Plastic Surgery has played a tremendous role in the breaking down of international barriers by helping and teaching the budding plastic surgeons. 

IndiCure is one of the most renowned names for providing plastic surgery at best hospitals for plastic surgery in India at most affordable cost. For more information, on planning your plastic surgery medical tourism in India, write to us at or call us at +91-932-003-6777 (India) or +1-877-270-2448 (US Toll-Free)