The History of the Nose Job

History of the Nose Job

Believe it or not, plastic surgery dates back to before the rise of the Roman Empire. The nose job, also known as rhinoplasty, was used as a procedure as far back at the 6th century BC. According to Elizabeth Harken’s book Venus Envy: A History of Plastic Surgery, the procedure that people now recognize as the nose job originated in ancient India. This article will delve briefly into the history of rhinoplasty, with more information available through this link.

Roots in Ancient India

As early as the 6th century BC, people in India were using rhinoplasty to change the way they looked. The original nose job involved taking a flap of skin from the patient’s cheek and shaping it into a new nose. The proof that this occurred can be found in the ancient text Sushruta Samhita, which is now considered to be a key text describing medicine of the ancient world. Unlike the modern procedure, these early nose jobs focused not on reducing or reshaping the nose, but rather building it up, creating a nose that was actually larger than the original. This contrasts drastically with what the modern world, especially in the west, considers to be more attractive.

The Dangers of Syphilis

In the western world, the nose job came about in the 16th century as a reaction to the syphilis epidemic. As it turns out, one of the consistent issues caused by syphilis is the decay of soft tissue. This means that particularly bad cases could result in a person’s nose itself decaying, leaving nothing but a hole in the middle of the face. To help combat this problem, people from that era would take skin from the patient’s arm and use it to create a new nose for syphilis patients. The process wasn’t perfect, however, and sometimes the new noses wouldn’t be all that convincing. As time went on, however, the procedure would get closer and closer to perfection.

The Nose Job Today

Today, rhinoplasty has grown in occurrence to become one of the most common cosmetic procedures. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, more than 217,000 people got their noses reshaped in 2014. That makes it the second most common plastic surgery procedure, with only breast augmentation being more frequent. Despite this, there has always been a certain stigma when it comes to the nose job. Dating hundreds of years back, people generally ridiculed those who got this technique performed. As the procedure has become more common and people have grown to accept that plastic surgery isn’t necessarily a sign of insecurity, the stigma has been reduced.


Rhinoplasty is one of the safest and most common cosmetic surgery procedures performed today, and it is much older and more ingrained in multiple cultures than people suspect. By knowing more about the history of the nose job, people who perform and undergo this common cosmetic procedure can get a better appreciation for what they are about to undergo. This in turn makes the procedure safer even as its history becomes more interesting than ever before.