Conversations I Wish I Had

Renaissance Rhinoplasty: The 16th-Century Nose Job

The Chirurgeon's Apprentice

L0058567 Artificial nose, Europe, 1601-1800The 16th century was a particularly bad time for noses. In 1566, the famous astronomer, Tycho Brahe, had his sliced off during a duel and was forced to wear a replacement reportedly made of silver and gold. [1] Others lost theirs in similar fights, or to cancerous tumours that ate away the cartilage on their faces. But the biggest culprit to noses during this period was the new disease sweeping through Europe: syphilis.

Before the discovery of penicillin in 1928, syphilis was incurable. Its symptoms were as terrifying as they were unrelenting. Those who suffered from it long enough could expect to develop unsightly skin ulcers, paralysis, gradual blindness, dementia and what today is known as ‘saddle nose’—a grotesque deformity which occurs when the bridge of the nose caves into the face and the flesh rots away.

As syphilis raged throughout 16th-century Europe, the ‘saddle nose’…

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This entry was posted on October 25, 2015 by .

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