The word plastic comes from the Greek word plastikos, meaning to mold or give form. Plastic surgery makes it possible to mold or reform parts of the human body in order to heal or correct deformities caused by injury, disease, or birth defects. Cosmetic or aesthetic surgery is a branch of plastic surgery concerned with improving physical appearance.
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The first cosmetic surgery is recorded as early as 600 BC in India. A technique was developed there to use a portion of the forehead to reconstruct the noses of women who had been penalized for marital infidelity.
Modern cosmetic surgery offers sophisticated techniques for restructuring noses and chins, brows and cheeks. Although cosmetic procedures were once the privilege of the rich, modern techniques have made them safer and less costly, so that they are available to people of most socioeconomic backgrounds. Many people now consider cosmetic surgery as normal as crowned teeth or tinted hair.
An increasing number of cosmetic procedures are available to counteract the results of premature aging. Most are concerned with smoothing out wrinkles, removing excess skin and fat, and restoring more youthful contours to the face.