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Almanac: Birth of plastic surgery

Almanac: Plastic surgery
Almanac: Plastic surgery 02:11

And now a page from our “Sunday Morning” Almanac: October 23rd, 1814, 202 years ago today ... the day London doctor Joseph Carpue performed what is widely regarded as the Western world’s first modern plastic surgery operation.

Pioneered in ancient Egypt, plastic surgery was long practiced in India, where Dr. Carpue observed it firsthand.

His subsequent successful operations -- and his writings about them -- caught the attention of the medical world.

Hand-colored engravings from Joseph Constantine Carpue’s treatise, published in 1816, on the first example in Western medicine of nasal reconstruction surgery. Wellcome Library, London

Fast forward to today, when plastic surgery figures prominently in tabloid speculation about any number of Hollywood stars. 

Plastic surgery has even played a starring role on TV, in shows such as “Nip/Tuck.”

Popular as plastic surgery is here in the United States, it’s even more popular in beach body-minded Brazil. Even the girl from Ipanema is getting a little extra help these days, as CBS News’ Trish Regan discovered during a visit in 2005:

“Right After actually leaving the clinic,” Vanessa Nunes told Regan, “I felt different already. Okay, people are looking now. I like it!”

According to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 74.2 Brazilians per 10,000 had plastic surgery in 2013, compared to 45.9 per 10,000 in the U.S.

Still, when it comes plastic surgery, all is NOT vanity.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the number of Americans who had cosmetic surgery last year was about 1.7 million, while more than three times as many -- nearly six million people -- had reconstructive surgery for medical reasons.

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