Cosmetic Surgery in Ancient India

  • Richard L. NelsonEmail author
Living reference work entry

Cosmetic operations form a special corner in medicine – much in demand and yet often much maligned for being unnecessary or frivolous. This assumes a clear-cut division between a narcissistic desire for an improved appearance, the correction of a disfigurement or injury that altars appearance in an alarming way without altering physiologic function, and the real disability and danger caused by a disease. Whatever the clarity of the division, the demand persists and also reaches back into antiquity. The undisputed father of the field of cosmetic surgery is Suśruta, a surgeon, educator, and compiler who lived probably around the sixth to eighth century BCE, though his possible dates vary greatly from 1200 AD to well before 1000 BCE. No original texts of his great work, the Saṃhitā, exist today. It has been edited and revised throughout its history, the most significant contributions made by Nāgārjuna, who lived most probably in the second century BCE.

The Suśrutasaṃhitāis a remarkable...


Skin Flap Postpartum Depression Cosmetic Operation Oxford English Dictionary Nasal Reconstruction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Bhishagratna, K. K. (1907). Suśrutasaṃhitā (Sanskrit text with English translation). Varnasi: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office.Google Scholar
  2. Prakash, U. B. S. (1978). Suśruta of ancient India. Surgery, Gynecology and Obstetrics, 146, 263–271.Google Scholar
  3. Rana, R. E., & Arora, B. S. (2002). History of plastic surgery in India. Journal of Postgraduate Medicine, 48(1), 76–78.;year=2002;volume=48;issue=1;spage=76;epage=8;aulast=Rana.
  4. Sankaran, P. S. (1967). Suśruta’s contribution to surgery. Varanasi: Indological Book House.Google Scholar
  5. Singhal, G. D., Singh, L. M., & Singh, K. P. (1972). Diagnostic consideration on ancient Indian surgery. Allahabad: Sammelan Mudnanata.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sheffield Teaching HospitalsSheffieldUK