Taliacotian rhinoplasty
in Rhinoplasty and the nose in early modern British medicine and culture
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Chapter two details the medical approach to nose surgery in published early modern texts. In De curtorum chirurgia per insitionem (1597), Gaspare Tagliacozzi provided a detailed account of how the reconstruction of a damaged or missing nose, lip, or ear could be performed using a skin flap lifted from the patient’s arm, but it was the reconstruction of the nose that really caught the attention of early modern Europe. Although he had not invented the procedure, Tagliacozzi was the first to describe it in detail to European surgeons and became synonymous with the operation. The chapter explores the grounds on which Tagliacozzi was criticised by contemporaries like Ambroise Paré, and his and his supporters’ defensive strategies, especially the careful selection of patient narratives that emphasised masculine military endeavour and feminine virtue. It subsequently maps how the procedure and its historiography were reported into the nineteenth century, when the ‘Indian method’ of forehead-flap rhinoplasty was employed by surgeons such as Joseph Constantine Carpue, and thence through Britain, Europe, America, and Australia. It shows how Tagliacozzi’s operation continued to inform facial surgery, prompting a renaissance in Tagliacozzi’s reputation within nineteenth-century science and shaping the early historiography of plastic surgery.

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