Renaissance Plastic Surgery

I have a lot of former students who are either physicians or who are in medical school. In many ways, you guys provide the inspiration for these blogs!

Case in point. A former student just told me over Facebook (yes, Facebook--even I can't believe I use it) that she is doing a clinical preceptorship in plastic surgery. She'll be scrubbing in for the first time tomorrow morning. This one's for you, SD!

We can find illustrations of plastic surgery going back to the 16th century, particularly in the works of Gasparo Tagliacozzi (1546-1699). The most famous images from his surgical manuals have to be the nose jobs. Rhinoplasty remains front and center in the early-modern surgical imagination for one primary reason: syphillis. From what I understand, highly advanced cases of syphilis--as many were--can devastate the membranes around the nose. Tagliacozzi was among the first to attempt skin grafts. I'll post some pictures on that tomorrow.

One of my favorite medical figures, though, has to be the inimitable Ambroise Pare (1510-1590)--and I'm certain that he will show up on these pages frequently. Pare was a self-trained surgeon (as nearly of them were). A battlefield surgeon, Pare had an intense interest in helping restore lost limbs and mangled bodies more generally. His works are full of beautiful illustrations of mechanical limbs, prostheses, and techniques for what we'd now call plastic surgery.

Note to SD: here's an image to help you prep for your first surgery. Tell me if it looks anything like what you see tomorrow. Something makes me think it's a little more complicated than this!

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