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Aesthetic Medicine - Medical History

Updated: Mar 23, 2022

The Aesthetics Diary - The eclectic history of aesthetic medicine.

by Dr Sophie Gaskell

Although ancient Greek and Roman medicine is generally considered the origin of modern medicine, there is evidence in Egyptian texts suggesting that it was in fact the ancient Egyptians.

The 'Channel Theory' which was prevalent in Egypt around 1600 BCE, believed that unimpeded flow of bodily fluids was a fundamental prerequisite for health, which could be regarded as a precursor of Ancient Greek humoral pathology

The ancient papyrus, The Edwin Smith Papyrus (1600 BCE) is the oldest known surgical treatise on trauma, which may have been a manual of military surgery as it describes injuries, fractures, as well as containing short sections on gynaecology and cosmetics.

‘Secret Book of the Physician”

There are four other principal medical Egyptian papyri in existence, so what makes the Edwin Smith papyrus unique?

It is the only papyrus which presents a rational and scientific approach to medicine - the other ones are medical texts based on magic!

Sushruta Samhita

– Is the first surgical textbook compounded by the ancient Indian surgeon, who was known for his pioneering operations and techniques, and is the main source of knowledge about surgery in ancient India.

It is considered one of the oldest texts in the world on plastic surgery and is highly regarded as one of the Great Trilogy of Ayurvedic Medicine.

It provided important surgical and anatomical information and contained descriptions of skin grafts and other techniques – in fact, the technique for using a reconstructive flap became the most widely used methods of nasal


Both world wars, which saw mass casualties suffering from severe facial injuries also influenced aesthetic surgical techniques, and some of the first successful skin grafts pioneered by the surgeon Harold Gilles in 1916 were as a result of treating soldiers after the battle of the Somme.

In 1963, silicone was introduced to the aesthetics industry for breast augmentation - with the first study of liquid injectable silicone for tissue augmentation being published in 1965

Although it had many desirable properties as a material, it also had the potential to migrate and fistulize which lead to its restriction by the FDA in 1976.

Bovine Collagen was approved in 1981 and quickly became one of the most important substance for tissue augmentation for more than 20 years. This resulted in numerous animal and human derived natural and synthetic fillers becoming available, but they all came with a high allergy potential.

And because it had a much lower potential to evoke an allergic response, it quickly replaced collagen as the number one filler material after its European market release in 1996.

The cosmetic application was discovered by accident and in 1992, Jean and Alastair Carruthers first published their article on the treatment of glabellar frown lines with BoNTA, and the brand ‘Botox’ was approved for cosmetic use in 2002.

Today Botox is commonly used for the aesthetic treatment of glabellar horizontal forehead and lateral canthal lines.

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Great web site and great Blog, very very informative

Sophie Gaskell
Sophie Gaskell
Mar 23, 2022
Replying to

Thank you! - I love your blog too!

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