Plastic surgery isn’t the modern luxury and its roots date back more than 2500 years in India. For over the years, West has always undermined India’s contribution to science and medicine and projected the country as a land of snakes and serpent-charmers. However, things have changed now, thanks to our first prime minister Jawahar Lal Nehru whose visionary thinking led the foundation of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) – the pioneer in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research.
America’s renowned Columbia University has given the credit of plastic surgery to ancient Indian physician named Sushruta – widely regarded in India as the ‘father of surgery’. Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC), a research and educational enterprise located on a campus in northern Manhattan in its “History of Medicine" series has accepted that it was Sushruta who wrote one of the world’s earliest works on medicine and surgery.
“The Sushruta Samhita documented the etiology of more than 1,100 diseases, the use of hundreds of medicinal plants, and instructions for performing scores of surgical procedures – including three types of skin grafts and reconstruction of the nose,” the CUIMC said in its research.
In modern times, surgeons around the world use skin graft technique to restore areas that have lost protective layers of tissues. Some grafts include blood vessels and muscle, such as in reconstructive breast surgery. However, you will be amazed to know that all these techniques are very well explained in the Sushruta Samhita written during the 6th Century BCE.
One of the pages of Sushruta Samhita (Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia)
What is Sushruta Samhita?
Sushruta Samhita or Sahottara-Tantra is an ancient Indian textbook on medicine and surgery. Written in Sanskrit by the great physician Sushruta, the text is one of the most important dissertations on medicine and surgery to survive from the ancient world. Sushruta Samhita is also one of the foundational texts of traditional Indian medicine – Ayurveda. One of the two Hindu texts on the medical profession, Sushruta Samhita has a great significance and includes "historically unique chapters describing surgical training, instruments, and procedures." Most of the modern surgery techniques, including blood vessels and muscle, such as in reconstructive breast surgery, are explained in the text.