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The ether was administered via inhalation through either a handkerchief or bellows.
A section of skin would be cut from the forehead, folded down and stitched, or would be harvested from the patient’s arm.
A later representation of this procedure in Iconografia d’anatomia published in 1841, as reproduced in Richard Barnett’s Crucial Interventions, shows the patient with his raised arm still gruesomely attached to his face during the graft’s healing period.
The removal of the second major impediment to cosmetic surgery occurred in the 1860s.
English doctor Joseph Lister’s model of aseptic, or sterile, surgery was taken up in France, Germany, Austria and Italy, reducing the chance of infection and death.
Various models of chin and forehead straps, such as the patented “Ganesh” brand, were advertised as a means for removing double chins and wrinkles around the eyes.
Bust reducers and hip and stomach reducers, such as the J. Hygienic Beauty Belt, also promised non-surgical ways to reshape the body.
As socially crippling as facial disfigurements could be and as desperate as some individuals were to remedy them, purely cosmetic surgery did not become commonplace until operations were not excruciatingly painful and life-threatening.
In 1846, what is frequently described as the first “painless” operation was performed by American dentist William Morton, who gave ether to a patient.
The ads for “powder and paint” that do exist often emphasised the product’s “natural look” to avoid any negative association between cosmetics and artifice.
The most common cosmetic operations requested before the 20th century aimed to correct features such as ears, noses and breasts classified as “ugly” because they weren’t typical for “white” people.