Tuesday, May 24, 2016

For the Love of Beauty

Early skin grafting from Gaspare Tagliacozzi's De curtorum chirurgia per insitionem.OUCH! This poor guy is benefiting from the latest in medical technology. Too bad he lived in the 16th century.  This early example of skin grafting, where the skin is peeled up from the arm and then grafted to the face, is from Gaspare Tagliacozzi's De curtorum chirurgia per insitionem (Venice: Apud Gasparem Bindonum, 1597), the first western book to describe the techniques of plastic surgery. The skin had to remain attached to the arm to facilitate blood flow until the graft took to the face. The straight-jacket like outfit immobilized the arm relative to the face. It couldn't have been comfortable.

Tagliacozzi was ahead of his time in many ways. He was a strong advocate for sanitation, and worked to minimize scars from grafts. His work pioneered plastic surgery in Europe.

You can see this book in our current exhibit, "The Doctor Will See You Now," on display in the Class of 1965 Galleries in Rauner through June 13. The exhibit was curated by students from Sienna Craig's First-Year writing seminar, "Values of Medicine." After the exhibit comes down, ask for Rare QM21.P528.

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