10 July 2021

Rhinoplasty - 1597

I am recurrently startled by flashes of medical brilliance in ancient times. That was the case this week when I read about De Curtorum Chirurgia Per Insitionem  (The Surgery of Defects by Implantations), written in 1597 by Gaspare Tagliacozzi, professor of surgery and anatomy at the University of Bologna.
The tome, which is written in Latin, is illustrated with diagrams, including the rhinoplasty, in which the patient's nose was attached to a flap of skin from his upper arm. In one plate, the patient is seen in bed with his forearm attached to his head and a flap of skin from his bicep region stuck onto his nose.

The book tells how he stayed like that for about three weeks until the skin from his arm had attached itself properly. After a further two weeks the flap of skin was shaped so it resembled a nose and the process was complete.

The book was sold for £11,000 to a modern-day plastic surgeon.
The technique used then is not widely dissimiliar from how some reconstructions are facilitated today.  Facsimiles of the book can be purchased at Amazon ($250), or browsed at Google libri.

Reposted from 2010.


  1. Wow. That is almost exactly the technique used when they fixed my wife's ear, which Basil Cell Carcinoma had ravaged.


  2. "written in 1597 by Gaspare Tagliacozzi, professor or surgery and anatomy at the University of Bologna."

    ...professor of surgery...

  3. Interesting. Reminds me of picture from patients (severly injured airmen in WWII) of Sir Archibald McIndoe:
    "The Guinea Pig Club"

  4. This technique was depicted in "The Knick" (which is excellent IMO) to treat a syphilis patient who had lost her nose.


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