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Advertisements for the likes of the the Derma-Featural Co were rare in women’s magazines around the turn of the 20th century.But ads were frequently published for bogus devices promising to deliver dramatic face and body changes that might reasonably be expected only from surgical intervention.By the 1880s, with the further refinement of anaesthesia, cosmetic surgery became a relatively safe and painless prospect for healthy people who felt unattractive.
The report also refers to the non-surgical “paraffin wax” rhinoplasty, in which hot, liquid wax was injected into the nose and then “moulded by the operator into the desired shape”.
The wax could potentially migrate to other parts of the face and be disfiguring, or cause “paraffinomas” or wax cancers.
Various models of chin and forehead straps, such as the patented “Ganesh” brand, were advertised as a means for removing double chins and wrinkles around the eyes.
Bust reducers and hip and stomach reducers, such as the J. Hygienic Beauty Belt, also promised non-surgical ways to reshape the body.
The removal of the second major impediment to cosmetic surgery occurred in the 1860s.
English doctor Joseph Lister’s model of aseptic, or sterile, surgery was taken up in France, Germany, Austria and Italy, reducing the chance of infection and death.Reality television shows based on surgical transformations, such as The Swan and Extreme Makeover, were not the first public spectacles to offer women the ability to compete for the chance to be beautiful.In 1924, a competition ad in the New York Daily Mirror asked the affronting question “Who is the homeliest girl in New York?Some of the first recorded surgeries took place in 16th-century Britain and Europe.Tudor “barber-surgeons” treated facial injuries, which as medical historian Margaret Pelling explains, was crucial in a culture where damaged or ugly faces were seen to reflect a disfigured inner self.American otolaryngologist John Orlando Roe’s discovery of a method for performing rhinoplasties inside the nose, without leaving a tell-tale external scar, was a crucial development in the 1880s.As is the case today, patients wanted to be able to “pass” (in this case as “white”) and for their surgery to be undetectable.In 2015, 627,165 American women, or an astonishing one in 250, received breast implants.In the early years of cosmetic surgery, breasts were never made larger. Small, rounded breasts were viewed as youthful and sexually controlled.The ads for “powder and paint” that do exist often emphasised the product’s “natural look” to avoid any negative association between cosmetics and artifice.The most common cosmetic operations requested before the 20th century aimed to correct features such as ears, noses and breasts classified as “ugly” because they weren’t typical for “white” people.