Passarotti, Tiburzio (attributed) (Italian, 1555-1612)

Gaspare Tagliacozzi

Reference Type:
second half 16th century
Gaspare Tagliacozzi (1545-1599), known as “the father of plastic surgery,” was based at the University of Bologna, one of the key medical centers of the sixteenth century. He obtained a degree in medicine and philosophy at the university, and was named surgery professor in 1576. He held that position until his death in 1599. Tagliacozzi’s specialty was noses that had been lost or amputated in war, damaged in a duel, or removed as a form of punishment. A flap of skin from the arm was attached to the nose, and the arm bandaged in a raised position for about two weeks until the skin had attached itself to the nose. The arm was then cut loose, and the nose reshaped in a series of minor operations. When others suggested he take skin from another individual for the graft Tagliacozzi refused, knowing (although he never attempted it) that the body might reject it. The process he used is described in detail and illustrated in the multiple versions of the book in the portrait. His treatise— De Curtorum Chirurgia per Insitionem—published in 1589, is considered the first exclusive publication on plastic surgery. Prior to this, nose repair methods were kept as proprietary information by families of barber surgeons. Although Tagliacozzi was known throughout Europe for his skill and success rate, some churchmen viewed his surgeries as interfering with God’s work. They spoke out so avidly against him that Tagliacozzi’s remains were disinterred and reburied in unconsecrated ground. It was not until Joseph Carpue published Restoring a Lost Nose in London in 1815 that rhinoplasty was again practiced. Notes by Mariann Smith
History of Medicine
Istituto Rizzoli, Bologna