Plastic Surgery
by Lana Thompson
December 2011, 200pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-0-313-37568-2
$65, £50, 57€, A90
eBook Available: 978-0-313-37569-9
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

In modern society, the decisions to pursue plastic surgery—such as rhinoplasty or breast augmentation—are sometimes made with as little thought as changing one’s hair color. Should plastic surgery be treated as a consumer choice rather than an optional medical decision?

This book provides a complete history of plastic surgery, a description of the modern techniques and choices available, and an overview of the controversies surrounding the choice to voluntarily change your physical appearance.

Plastic surgery was historically considered a medical necessity. These were procedures specifically developed to treat burn or accident victims, to correct those born with cleft palates, or to repair extreme cases of cosmetic disfigurement, such as amputations performed as a punishment for adulterous men. Today, however, plastic surgery is a common option for those seeking to modify their normal and uninjured bodies to conform to an unrealistic, idealized model of perfection.

This book presents the fascinating history of how therapeutic techniques were adapted to offer cosmetic changes to patients without disfiguring bodily flaws. The first section of Plastic Surgery details this evolution by tracing the history from development of the medical techniques to the choices currently available today. The second section digs deeper to examine the controversies and issues associated with plastic surgery, such as race, beauty, and gender reassignment. The third section offers primary documents produced by medical authorities regarding accepted procedures and practices, as well as an expansive glossary and timeline.


  • Presents essays by Thomas Mutter—namesake of the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia—on his techniques for burn victims
  • Provides illustrations depicting examples of plastic surgery ranging from the Renaissance to the 21st century
  • Includes a useful bibliography of primary sources
  • Contains a glossary explaining medical and body orientation terms
Lana Thompson is an independent scholar who works at the University Center for Excellence in Writing at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL. Her published works include The Wandering Womb: A Cultural History of Outrageous Beliefs about Women; a chapter on counterculture and rebellion in Cultural History of Reading; and encyclopedia articles for medical, anthropological, and social venues. Thompson holds an MA in anthropology and is currently pursuing an MFA in creative nonfiction.


"Overall, this volume provides an intriguing look into the history of plastic surgery . . ."—Booklist Online, March 14, 2012

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