Today, we’re diving deep into the world of rhinoplasty, or as it’s more casually known, the nose job. We’ll be focusing on its development during the 1920s and 1930s, but before we do, let’s take a quick detour into the surprisingly rich history of this now commonplace procedure.
Though many associate the birth of nose jobs with mid-century Hollywood starlets looking to boost their on-screen appeal, the truth is that rhinoplasty has roots reaching back thousands of years. Back in the 18th century, it was a reconstructive procedure primarily used to restore noses ravaged by late-stage syphilis. It wasn’t until the 19th century that we saw the first cosmetic rhinoplasties, marking the beginning of an era where physical enhancement became as important, if not more so, than medical necessity.
Fast forward to the 1920s and 1930s, and we see rhinoplasty starting to take its modern form. This period brought significant advancements in the medical field, largely due to the unfortunate surge in war-related injuries during the World Wars. This forced the medical community to innovate, leading to developments in anesthesia and the introduction of antibiotics. These advancements made surgical procedures, including rhinoplasty, safer and more accessible.
Now, the 1920s and 1930s might not have had the same Hollywood glamour associated with rhinoplasty as the 1950s – when stars like John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, and Rita Hayworth famously had their noses reshaped. But the progress made during these decades paved the way for the boom in cosmetic surgery that was to follow.
In this era, rhinoplasty started to become less about necessity and more about choice, personal aesthetics, and self-confidence. We owe much of our modern understanding and practice of rhinoplasty to the groundwork laid during the 1920s and 1930s.