Joshua Cooper, MD, FACS


Dr. Cooper
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Mar 14

Dr. Cooper

Why is it called Plastic Surgery?

by Dr. Cooper

Why is it called Plastic Surgery?

A patient asked me today how "plastic surgery" got its name. An interesting question indeed! As someone who is keenly interested in history himself, I decided to answer this in today's blog post.

The word "plastic" comes from the Greek work, plastikos, meaning "able to be molded." The term "plastic surgery" appears to have been coined by a German surgeon who was an early pioneer of plastic and reconstructive surgery, in the early 1800s. Hence, plastic surgery really has nothing to do with the "plastic" material that is ubiquitous in our world today. In fact, plastic as we know it today, was not widespread until its mass production began in the 1940s & 1950s.

It should be mentioned that people were practicing plastic and reconstructive surgery, often out of necessity, much earlier than the 1800s when the term first started being used. As early as 800 B.C., skin grafts were employed, and around 700 B.C. Indian physicians were performing nasal reconstruction with flaps of tissue transposed from the forehead.

Plastic surgery: a field of surgery in which we are able to mold the body into different forms, both for cosmetic & reonstructive purposes.


great post! thank you for the helpful information.

BY: cassie april on Apr 25, 2014 at 9:47am

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