Did you know that the history of plastic surgery goes way back to World War I? The first plastic surgery procedures were performed on soldiers whose faces had been disfigured by warfare weapons, including bombs, bullets and flamethrowers. These weapons left soldiers vulnerable for severe attacks and left them with broken bones and burns beyond what medicine could repair at the time. Although some soldiers were patched up, they were still left with disfiguring conditions that rendered them unable to work or have any form of quality life.

“What is the use of life if [a soldier] is not in a condition to seek and to earn a livelihood?” asked one war surgeon.

Restorative surgeries were available at the time, but they were considered more of an indulgence than a medical need. However, as the war continued and grew more dangerous for soldiers, generals began to endorse facial plastic surgery as a necessity to raise morale for troops.

And so, the war carried on and doctors continued to perform restorative plastic surgery procedures on the injured soldiers. Once the war ended, however, many British and French doctors stopped performing plastic surgery treatments and resumed their regular practice. Yet, Americans had a different idea in mind. Our nation began to realize that plastic surgery was not only the key to restore an injured person back to their former self, but a new market could be developed – one that would not only fulfill a patient’s cosmetic needs and goals, but emphasize the underlying medical necessity for the treatment.

Unfortunately, it would be some time before plastic surgery would be seen as anything more than just a vain attempt at improving someone’s physical appearance. Doctors would often perform surgeries in front of an audience to show how easy and quick a procedure could be performed. The field became ridiculed for its lack of professionalism and several surgeons lost their licenses for practicing in public.

It wasn’t until the 1980s that cosmetic surgery was beginning to be seen for more than just a way to create a pretty face or thin waist. As medical and technological advances progressed, so too did the field of plastic surgery, expanding with more innovative and safer procedures that patients would feel comfortable undergoing. By the turn of the century, treatments like liposuction, rhinoplasty and breast augmentation were all the rage, with the majority of patients being women seeking to feel more confident about their bodies.

Fast forward to our current day and age and the stigmas that once surrounded plastic surgery are virtually gone. There are vast differences between the field today and just 20 years ago, with new, less invasive procedures paving the way for minimal – if any – scars, reduced reaction to anesthesia by using local anesthetics, and a much faster recovery time.

In fact, plastic surgery has become so popular, statistics show that in 2012, 14.6 million cosmetic procedures were performed, representing a staggering 98 percent increase since 2000. Trends have shifted toward more rejuvenating cosmetic treatments, such as the popular Botox wrinkle relaxing treatment, and several others that allow patients the control over how they want their bodies to appear. And now, there are even some plastic surgery treatments that are performed solely for medical purposes, to improve the quality of life for patients who are suffering from serious medical conditions or impediments that inhibit their ability to function normally.

Gone are the days of frivolous cosmetics. The field of plastic surgery now encompasses regenerative, restorative and reconstruction treatments that can not only turn back the hands of time, but correct physical problems that were apparent since birth.

If you are currently suffering with a medical impediment, such as a deviated septum, Gynecomastia or any other condition you would like to treat through plastic surgery in New York, contact Dr. David Shafer today to schedule a consultation and determine your ideal treatment options.