Plastic surgery has become synonymous with the quest for youth and beauty, albeit with varying degrees of success. But the field has, for centuries, been driven by medical necessity — and it has nothing to do with plastic.
The discipline derives its name from the Greek word “plastikos” — to mold or give form. And while the idea of perfecting yourself surgically is a relatively recent phenomenon, there is evidence of reconstructive surgery going back to antiquity.
An illustration depicting 19th-century plastic surgery being performed on a woman with facial burns. Credit: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group Editorial/Getty Images
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