Renaissance Style Nose Jobs

Samuel Reason | February 7th, 2018

You may think that nose jobs are a relatively new surgery, however, they have been around since the 16th century. The Renaissance period was an extremely bad time for noses. If you were not getting your nose chopped off in a duel, then you were probably going to watch it drop off due to some form of the disease.

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Cancerous tumors might eat away at your face, but the worst of them all was dreaded syphilis. The disease was incurable before penicillin was produced in 1928 and the symptoms were appalling. Victims would develop hideous skin ulcers, gradual blindness, and dementia, but also they would commonly be subject to the “saddle nose.” This was a bizarre deformity which happens when the nose caves into the face due to rotting flesh.

So how did people deal with all their noses dropping off in the 16th century? They surely could not walk out in public without a nose! That was a mark of shame, people with nose deformities were shunned all across Europe as it was believed their body was corrupt. And this is where we see the first record of nose surgery to correct these deformities.

There were two main variations, the first one is referred to as the “Indian” style and used a flap of skin from the forehead. A skin graft during this age? No, they would simply partially cut the skin from your forehead and pull it down. This was because it had to remain attached to your forehead to keep the blood flow, otherwise, the skin would just die. Then it would be twisted into shape to faintly resemble a nose. The other method was developed by a man called Gaspare Tagliacozzi.

And it is just as gruesome. This method used skin from the patient’s arm to graft and form a new nose. But again they would need the skin to stay alive while it was being grafted to the nose. This resulted in it a strange array of bandages and arm slings, to immobilize the arm for two whole weeks holding the “new” nose in place.If you were lucky and the skin graft worked, then once healed your nose would be cut free. And Tagliacozzi went so far as to brag that his reconstructed noses were better than an original!

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