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Rhinoplasty: An Old Favorite Evolves

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Rhinoplasty, also called nose surgery and nose reshaping, has been at or near the top of the list of high-demand plastic surgery procedures for a very long time. At least 3000 years, to be more precise. With that kind of history and steady patient interest, it’s no wonder that rhinoplasty continues to evolve with the development of new technology and changing patient desires.

The first recorded rhinoplasty surgeries were performed in India as far back as 1000 B.C. It was a procedure that rebuilt the nose using skin from elsewhere on the face or another part of the body. Demand for the surgery arose because cutting off the nose was a traditional form of punishment in Indian society, according to Jacques Joseph, widely considered as the father of modern facial plastic surgery, in a textbook he authored nearly 100 years ago that is still in use today.

During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, nose surgery was starting to become more refined and increasingly available in pockets of both Europe and the U.S. John Orlando Roe, a New York surgeon, performed the first known intranasal, or surgery from inside the nose, in 1887. (Today this technique is routine.) Several years later, Jacques Joseph furthered his skills and reputation by restoring the faces of German soldiers in World War I at a Berlin hospital.

Steady demand for rhinoplasty is ongoing, as patients seek to repair injuries and reshape noses out of proportion to the rest of their facial features. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) reports that more than 150,000 U.S. patients elected the procedure in 2008. Perennially in the top five, rhinoplasty is topped only by breast augmentation, liposuction and eyelid surgery in terms of popularity.

Nose surgery continues to evolve to meet patient demands. The ASAPS noted earlier this year that although ethnic minorities now account for about 20% of all cosmetic procedures, many have been hesitant to seek rhinoplasty for fear of losing their ethnic identity.

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