A History of Plastic Surgery
By Paolo Santoni-Rugiu and Philip J. Sykes. 395 pp., illustrated, with CD-ROM. Berlin, Springer, 2007. $121(used)-329(new).
In this fascinating overview of the history of plastic surgery, the text is set out clearly and methodically with numerous impressive color illustrations. The book gives ample evidence that plastic surgery is one of the oldest surgical specialties, with procedures that often transcend the anatomical boundaries that define and limit other specialties. The content clearly draws on all the knowledge and skills the authors have amassed during their long and illustrious careers, as well as their expert knowledge of specialized texts.
The book has three major sections: an introduction to wound healing and the use of grafts and flaps (chapters 1 through 6), discussions of reconstructive surgery of specific areas (chapters 7 through 11), and discussions of cosmetic surgery (chapters 12 through 15). The second section is the most extensive, and it is very detailed. Throughout all the sections, the authors highlight the seminal achievements of Hippocrates, Galen, and Gaspare Tagliacozzi, and those of more recent innovators such as Harold Gillies.
Each chapter tells an absorbing story that is well illustrated with images of ancient manuscripts, noteworthy persons, and clinical photographs. The introduction to wound healing and the use of grafts and flaps contains considerable detail concerning the anatomical foundations of surgery and the closure of wounds. The physician who believes that the use of glue to close wounds is a recent advance may be interested to know that the Egyptians closed the margins of linear wounds by using strips of linen cloth that were made adherent by the application of gum. Indeed, it is possible that this technique predates the Egyptians, since resins were already well known in 8000 b.c. In the section on reconstructive surgery of specific areas, topics that are now proportionally uncommon are discussed at length because of their historical importance. Nasal reconstruction and other surgical procedures that blossomed during the Renaissance are presented as the centerpiece in the development of the principles of plastic surgery. The authors highlight the contributions that were made to this process by physicians and surgeons in several countries.
The section of chapters on cosmetic surgery is full of interesting information, and it highlights the fact that the yearning for good looks is by no means a recent phenomenon. Separate chapters on cosmetic rhinoplasty, facial rejuvenation, and cosmetic breast surgery give the reader an overview of the developments within aesthetic surgery. The book is rounded off with an extensive list of references, a subject index that reads like a who\'s who of plastic surgery, and some recommended further reading.
In the preface, the authors highlight obvious omissions, which include burns, maxillofacial surgery, craniofacial surgery, and hand surgery. Even so, they have produced an accessible and informative book that will be referred to constantly by trainee and veteran plastic surgeons alike.
Iain S. Whitaker, M.A., M.R.C.S.
Swansea SA6 6NL, United Kingdom