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Medically Reviewed by:

Robert Applebaum M.D.

How Did Plastic Surgery Get Its Name?

Considering Plastic Surgery? 

Are you considering plastic surgery?  How much do you already know about plastic surgery?

Plastic surgery is a big step that can give you a more aesthetically pleasing appearance, increased confidence, and new happiness. Plastic surgery has been around for ages, and over the years, amazing advancements in technology have completely changed the way plastic surgery is now conducted.  

The field of plastic surgery now offers patients various types of procedures, many of which offer increased safety measures and improved aesthetic outcomes with less invasiveness. 

Knowledge of how the field of plastic surgery all began will help you understand and appreciate the current options available. In addition, it may ease your decision in determining which plastic surgeon and treatment is best for you. 


First, let’s take a look at the history of Plastic Surgery. 

The name “plastic surgery” comes from the Greek word plastike, which means “the art of modeling or sculpting.”

The following is a timeline of some important landmarks in the practice of plastic surgery.

1895   First breast augmentation: this was performed by transplanting tissue from the back of the breast to correct asymmetry.

1899   First injectable materials used for breast implants: these materials included paraffin, beeswax, and vegetable oil.

1910-1919   First published technique on skin grafting by Dr. Vilray Blair;  Dr. Hippolyte Morestin is an important doctor in training plastic surgery in World War I;  Dr. Varaztad Kazanijan, is known as the Founding Father of modern plastic surgery, pioneering maxillofacial surgery techniques during World War I.

1924   The first plastic surgery training program created in the U.S. at John Hopkins by Dr. John Davis.

1931    American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (ASPS) is founded

1937   American Board of Plastic Surgery is founded; the silicone breast implant is unveiled

1970   Advances in craniofacial surgery led to new techniques and innovations in cosmetic facial surgery

1982   Liposuction comes to the U.S.

1992   FDA restricts silicone implants, leaving saline implants as the only option for women.

1998   Breast reconstruction legislation passed, requiring insurance companies to cover the cost of reconstructive breast surgery after mastectomy.

1999   The American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons adopts the name American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) to show that plastic surgeons and reconstructive surgeons are the same.

2000-2009    Body contouring introduced, assisting patients with removal and tightening of excess skin after massive weight loss.

What Does Plastic Surgery Mean?:

There are 3 different broad categories of plastic surgery:

  • Restorative: Involves trying to restore a body part back to normal appearance or function. This involves transplanting tissue from one person to another.
  • Rejuvenation: Is the process of improving appearance or function, leading to a younger, better appearance.
  • Enhancement: To make aesthetic improvements to the body.

Plastic surgery can also be further divided into different categories by definition:

  • Reconstructive plastic surgery: deals with surgical repair or restoration of an injured, lost, diseased, or defective, or misshapen part of the body.
    • Includes grafting of tissue (example skin or cartilage) from one part of the body to another part.
  • Cosmetic or aesthetic surgery: focuses on enhancing the appearance and includes surgical procedures and non-surgical procedures.
  • Surgical cosmetic procedures: These are procedures where a patient undergoes surgery to achieve their desired appearance.  Some examples include: 
  • Non-surgical cosmetic procedures: This is when a patient undergoes treatment, other than surgery in an attempt to achieve their desired appearance.

One example is aesthetic injectables including:

o   Botox

o   Kybella

o   Fillers

Another example is the Beverly Hills Face Tite Surgery.  This unique face and neck lift as performed by Dr. Robert Applebaum requires no scalpel and leaves no scars!

Face Tite Surgery

Before we continue talking about the history of plastic surgery, we’re sure you’re curious how a face and neck lift can be done with no scalpel.

How does it work?

This procedure is performed using FDA approved radiofrequency technology that has been shown to demonstrate skin tightening in the range of 30-40%. 

What benefits does the procedure offer?

  • No postoperative pain
  • No pain medication required
  • Decreased length of swelling
  • Makeup can be used after 4-5 days
  • Exercise can be resumed after 3- 4 days
  • Can be used on all skin types
  • General anesthesia is not required
  • Suitable for patients with underlying medical issue

Dr. Applebaum states: “Patients who have undergone the No-Scalpel, No Scars Face Tite procedure have been very pleased with the level of skin tightening and skin rejuvenation results.” 

Dr. Applebaum offers a variety of both non-surgical and surgical options, including minimally invasive procedures!

When Was the First Plastic Surgery Performed?

The first plastic surgery was performed in approximately 800 BC in India, when forehead flaps were used to reconstruct amputated noses. The ancient Egyptians and Romans also performed plastic surgery to treat defects in ears and lips, and enhance the appearance of the skin.  

Plastic surgery can change both a person’s appearance and function depending on the feature, contrary to the popular belief that plastic surgery is purely aesthetic. 

Accrediting Agencies

The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) was founded in 1937.  The American Board of Plastic Surgery Certification certified that plastic surgeons met the appropriate standards set by the ABPS. This means ABPS accredited surgeons have completed the necessary training and passed a comprehensive written and oral examination in all plastic surgery procedures, and have also met a long list of requirements involving certain years of schooling, training, and residency. 

It became part of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) in 1941. ABMS helps physicians demonstrate their competencies and professionalism, promoting improved quality patient care. Certification is a rigorous process and expectations are that physicians stay up to date on advances in their specialty.

It is essential that your plastic surgeon is accredited by the ABPS.   

Other Advancements

Over time, several advancements in plastic surgery have been developed to achieve improved patient safety as well as improve esthetics and or function. One such advancement is laser skin resurfacing.

Laser Skin Resurfacing

Dr. Robert Applebaum is an innovator in using laser in the field of aesthetic plastic surgery.  He was one of the first plastic surgeons in Los Angeles to use the Dot CO2 Fraction Laser.

Laser skin resurfacing replaced dermabrasion and chemical peels as the primary preferred resurfacing method for rejuvenating both age and sun-damaged skin, almost 25 years ago.

Laser skin resurfacing can be used to manage:

  • Fine lines
  • Wrinkles
  • Soft mild creases
  • Abnormal pigmentations
  • Acne
  • Traumatic scarring

This in mind, there are many benefits of Dot CO2 laser surgery, which include:

  • Pleasingly aesthetic results
  • Decreased recovery time
  • Reduced swelling
  • Reduced redness
  • Can be performed with topical gel anesthesia while the patient is awake
  • Can also be used on sensitive body areas, including the neck, chest, and hands
  • No dressing required
  • No open skin wound
  • Creates a PERMANENT collagen rejuvenation and PERMANENT visible improvement in the appearance of skin.

Learn more about Dr. Robert Applebaum and Dot CO2 laser treatment here!


As discussed, the practice of plastic surgery has come a long way over the years.  

If you are considering plastic surgery, you are encouraged to choose a plastic surgeon who is experienced in various types of treatment options, and proficient with the new innovative technology, such as the Dot CO2 laser for example.  

Dr. Applebaum can help you with plastic surgery needs while providing a supportive and comforting environment. Schedule a complimentary tele-consultation to get started!

Medically reviewed by Dr. Robert Applebaum

Dr. Robert Applebaum is a world renowned and highly respected Plastic Surgeon who is Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. In his nearly 30 years as a practicing physician, Dr. Applebaum has become known as an innovator in the field of laser technology techniques for plastic surgery procedures. He has published numerous articles and scientific papers about the use of laser technology and educates physicians worldwide on the applications of laser technology for plastic surgery. Dr. Applebaum primarily practices out of his private outpatient surgery center, Four Thirty Six Aesthetic Surgery Center, which is located in Beverly Hills.





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