The question of who performed the first plastic surgery operation is of interest to many. Authoritative sources point out that the Egyptians would prepare their dead for the afterlife by performing body alteration using principles of plastic surgery. For example, Ramses II’s mummy was found to have been surgically altered by having a small bone and a handful of seeds inserted into his nose to ensure that his most prominent feature would be recognizable in the afterlife. The mummy of Queen Nunjmet also had bandages stuffed in her cheeks and belly in the same sense that modern plastic surgeons implant silicone into a body. But while the Edwin Smith Papyrus shows that the Egyptians had skills to perform similar surgical procedures on the living, there is no solid documentation that this was actually done.
Most historians agree that the first recorded account of reconstructive plastic surgery on the living is found in ancient Indian Sanskrit texts dated ~ 600 B.C. This was done to repair noses or ears that were lost as either punishment for crimes or in battle.
At this juncture, let me politely disagree and go on record as stating that the first plastic surgery ever performed was done by the Lord God in the Garden of Eden! As reported in Genesis 2:21-22, “So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.” To paraphrase, after anesthetizing Adam, God made an incision, removed one of his ribs, and then fashioned Eve from the rib.
How might we describe this procedure? The word “plastic” used in plastic surgery is derived from the Greek word “plastikos,” which means to mold or shape. The Lord fashioned Eve from one of Adam’s rib with Adam under general anesthesia.
So there you have it – the first documented plastic surgery procedure was performed in the Garden of Eden!
George Sanders, M.D.