Sushruta: Was This Indian Genius The First Plastic Surgeon? - Historic Mysteries (2023)

Many of today’s modern medical procedures seem to be at the cutting edge of human understanding and technology, and . However, the era of many advanced medical procedures began with one man a very long time ago, who brought a revolution to mankind with his ancient measures for treating severe health adversities.

Sushruta, an Indian physician, is regarded today as the “Father of Medicine” and, perhaps more surprisingly, as the “Father of Plastic Surgery”. Living in Kashi, an ancient city in northern India known as Varanasi today, he wrote one of the earliest medical and surgery works in the 6th century BC.

For centuries, Sushruta Samhita was the go-to for information on operations and techniques, and was the prime source of knowledge on surgery across India. This entire book was written in Sanskrit, and 600 years before Jesus he is said to have formed the basis of Indian medicine, known as Ayurveda. This book is considered one of the three texts in a “Great Trilogy of Ayurvedic Medicine” and perhaps the greatest of the three.

His great text included information on diagnosis and treatment of over 1,100 diseases and the use of hundreds of medicinal plants. There were also many instructions in that book for the completion of surgical procedures, some of them quite extensive and severe.

The book also had three major types of skin grafting surgeries and nose reconstructions. And for this, Sushruta is often considered to be the world’s first plastic surgeon.

A Brilliant Man in an Ancient Time

It is important to emphasize how early in human history Sushruta made these breakthroughs. The great Greek and Roman compilers and physicians such as Hippocrates, Galen, and Celsus appeared centuries later.

This was a man who lacked the benefit of their work to built upon, and yet was able to perform immensely complex procedures such as repairing cut earlobes, earlobe piercing, fixing cut lips, and skin grafting. He used ancient instruments for carrying out all of these surgeries, much of the equipment manufactured by himself.

(Video) Father Of Surgery Sage Sushruta | EPICPEDIA - Unknown Facts of India | EP 2 | EPIC Digital Originals

Sushruta belonged to a rich heritage and was one of the several learned scholars. As per some historians, Sushruta learned life science and medicine surgery from Dhanwantari, another “Father of Medicine”.

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Other sources have Sushruta learning his trade from Divodasa, who was the physician king of Benares (another name for Varanasi). Records are of course extremely limited from so long ago, and some even consider the two teachers to be the same man.

All of this creates a lot of confusion about the origin of Sushruta. It is clear that he practiced surgery and then taught the same to many of his disciples at Benares University, which was situated on the river banks of the Ganges, some time around around 600 BC.

Sushruta’s Compendium

His advanced medical history includes a monumental thesis, which was given the name “Sushruta Samhita” or “Sushruta’s Compendium”. It is considered the oldest of all surgical texts, and contains advanced and extensive details on diagnosis, prognosis, examination, and treatment of many ailments. It also contains cosmetic surgery, rhinoplasty, and plastic surgery procedures.

Detailed, informed and extremely helpful, Sushruta Samhita was the document that shared the knowledge and wisdom of Sushruta with the entire world. Furthermore, Sushruta Samhita was translated into several languages for spreading this medical information to everyone across the globe. It was translated into Arabic, Latin, German, English, and others.

Sushruta Samhita is divided into five different principal sections. Sushruta was concerned about how to best structure his text to ensure the guide was as clear and helpful as possible, which could be taken forward with timely evolutions. Therefore, he divided his text as follows:

“Sutrasthana”: the primary principles which are laid out in the first section over 46 chapters, explaining the basic principle of pharmacology and medical sciences.

(Video) Maharishi Sushruta : The First Plastic Surgeon Of The World | StyleRug

“Nidana”: 16 chapters that deal with only the pathological concepts.

“Sarirasthana”: 10 chapters dedicated to human anatomy.

“Chikitsasthanam”: 34 chapters on surgical and medical management.

“Kalpasthanam”: eight chapters on toxicology.

The information in these five sections is precise, useful, and largely free from error even to modern eyes. It is very clear that someone who has performed these surgeries precisely is the only person who could write them in so much depth.

One of the methods that he mentioned within the book for studying human anatomy was that he let the corpse decompose in a river. Once the flesh had loosened, Sushruta would then scrub the body in layers to determine some structural details about the human body.

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The surgical textbook had detailed techniques on incisions, the use of alkali, cauterizing wounds with heated metal, excision, tooth extraction, probing and investigative surgery, foreign body extraction, and methods for safely draining abscesses and other fluids. The book also had information on invasive surgery, for example offering methods to repair damage to intestines.

(Video) First Plastic Surgery | Sushruta [Hindi]

A Practical Guide

Sushruta mentioned the use of ant-heads as the prime material for stitching together such wounds. He has mentioned and carried out even more complex procedures, including prostate gland removal, dilation of urethral stricture, hernia surgery, aiding birth through Cesarean section, vesicolithotomy (the removal of bladder stones), hemorrhoids management, laparotomy (abdominal surgery), and the treatment of post-surgical fistulae and other complications.

Apart from the surgery instructions, the book also had details on treating fractures, dislocations, and bone classifications. It highlighted the immediate reactions of the body to such bone injuries. He elaborated on traction, manipulation, stabilization, apposition, and fracture management, and even rehabilitation and use of prosthetics.

In short, he contributed to modern medicine by giving the world an introduction to 1,120 illnesses, 700 medicinal plants, 57 preparations from animal sources, and 64 preparations from mineral sources.

Sushruta did not limit the book to just procedures, but he also described the type of surgical instruments, irrigating syringes, and catheters. He gave the details of manufacturing these instruments, as he used to make them all by himself. Here was the entirely of medicine distilled into one man.

Sushruta became most famous however for introducing surgical rhinoplasty, or nasal reconstruction. This process describes repairing a disfigured nose with the use of a skin flap taken from the forehead. Earlier in that time, the criminals were punished by amputating their noses, which Sushruta used to repair or fix with medical treatments.

This is one technique that is practiced with the same approach, even today! Sushruta ushered the world into a new Golden Age of Surgery, one that recognized the root cause of many problems in a time where many chose to rely on the gods to heal them. His understanding of medicine makes him seem like a man from the future.

Sushruta’s wisdom has been passed on to the modern generation. The information, procedures, and techniques were all broadly correct and are still followed today, and the evolution of technology has only enhanced the process of these treatments. The root of it still connects to the Sushruta Samhita, and its author, the Father of Medicine.

(Video) Sushruta | First ever Plastic Surgeon | History from ancient till now |

Top Image: How did Sushruta come to understand so much about modern medicine? Source: Alokprasad / CC BY-SA 3.0.

By Bipin Dimri


India Today, 2019. Know all about Sushruta, the first-ever plastic surgeon who was Indian. Available at:

Champaneria, M; Workman, A; Gupta, S, 2014. Sushruta: father of plastic surgery, Available at:,of%20medicine%20in%20ancient%20India

Bath, K; Aggaral, S; Sharma, V, 2016. Sushruta: Father of plastic surgery in Benares. Available at:

Saroshe, S, 2016. Sushruta: the ancient Indian surgeon. Available at:

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Sushruta: Was This Indian Genius The First Plastic Surgeon? - Historic Mysteries (4)

Bipin Dimri

Bipin Dimri is a writer from India with an educational background in Management Studies. He has written for 8 years in a variety of fields including history, health and politics.



Was sushruta the first surgeon? ›

Ayurveda is one of the oldest medical disciplines. The Sushrutaa Samhita is among the most important ancient medical treatises and is one of the fundamental texts of the medical tradition in India along with the Charak Samhita. Sushruta is the father of surgery.

Who was the first plastic surgeon in India? ›

Sushruta is considered the "Father of Plastic Surgery." He lived in India sometime between 1000 and 800 BC, and is responsible for the advancement of medicine in ancient India.

Who was sushruta why is he significant? ›

Sushruta, one of the founding fathers of surgery and plastic surgery, lived in India sometime between 600 to 1000 B.C. His Sushruta Samhita (Sushruta's compendium), one of the most outstanding treatises in Indian medical literature, describes the ancient tradition of surgery in India.

Who was the greatest surgeon of ancient India? ›

Sushruta took surgery in medieval India to admirable heights and that era was later regarded as the 'Golden Age of Surgery' in ancient India. The genius of Sushruta prompted eminent surgeon Allen Whipple to declare, "All in all, Sushruta must be considered the greatest surgeon of the pre-medieval period."

Who did the first surgery in history? ›

Ayurveda. Sushruta (c. 600 BCE) is considered as the "founding father of surgery". His period is usually placed between the period of 1200 BC - 600 BC.

What was the first surgery in history? ›

6500 B.C.: Evidence of trepanation, the first surgical procedure, dates to 6500 B.C. Trepanation was the practice of drilling or cutting a hole through the skull to expose the brain. This was thought to cure mental illness, migraines, epileptic seizures and was used as emergency surgery after a head wound.

Who is famous for plastic surgery in India? ›

Dr. Vinod Vij is India's one of the best Plastic & Cosmetic surgeons. Performing rhinoplasty (nose job), blepharoplasty, abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), liposuction, breast reduction and augmentation, chin implants, and other cosmetic surgeries.

Who was the first person to get plastic surgery? ›

Walter Yeo, the first person to receive plastic surgery, performed by Sir Harold Delf Gillies in 1917. The pictures of Walter's face before the surgery are blurry and hard to come by. In the Battle of Jutland he was recorded as having lost both his upper and lower eyelids.

Who is famous plastic surgeon in India? ›

Here is a list of top plastic surgeon in India
1Dr. Sunil ChoudharyMax Super Speciality Hospital
2Dr. Vipul NandaArtemis Hospital
3Dr. (Maj Gen) Avtar Singh BathBLK Super Speciality Hospital
4Dr. Rakesh K. KhazanchiMedanta The Medicity
3 more rows
Oct 29, 2020

How did Sushruta find the three missing things? ›

By observing his teacher carefully and thinking about what he did.

How did Sushruta find the missing things? ›

Ans. Sushruta found the missing things by observing his teacher carefully and thinking about what he did.

What were the three things that Sushruta discovered? ›

The three things that Sushruta discovered were:
  • A good veterinarian should have an eagle's eye.
  • A good veterinarian should have a lion's heart.
  • A good veterinarian should have a mother's touch too.

Who is the most famous surgeon in India? ›

Following is the list of top General Surgeons in India.
  • Rank 1. Dr. Ramamoorthy N - General Surgeon - 45 Yrs. ...
  • Rank 2. Dr. Alok Nath Sinha - General Surgeon - 44 Yrs. ...
  • Rank 3. Dr. K. C. Gupta - General Surgeon - 43 Yrs. ...
  • Rank 4. Dr. Ramesh Dumbre - General Surgeon - 41 Yrs. ...
  • Rank 5. Dr.

Did ancient India create plastic surgery? ›

Ancient India: The Birthplace of Plastic Surgery

Most historians agree that the first recorded account of reconstructive plastic surgery on the living is found in ancient Indian Sanskrit texts.

Who is the greatest surgeon of all time? ›

A renegade physician, a pioneer, the father of open-heart surgery, and perhaps the best surgeon who ever lived, Dr. Michael DeBakey died of natural causes at 99.

When was the first plastic surgery in the world? ›

“It is recorded in history that the world's first plastic surgery was done in Kashi about 3,000 years ago when a person came to Maharshi Sushruta with a severed nose. Sushruta made him consume intoxicants to avert the pain.

What was the first surgery in India? ›

Acharya Sushruta – Cataract surgery and Plastic surgery: Cataract surgery and plastic surgery were also first performed by the ancient physician Sushruta. He used a curved needle and removed the cataract by pushing the lens.

Who was the first female surgeon? ›

Mary Edwards Walker. She is recorded as the first female surgeon in the United States. In 1855, she was the second female graduate of an American medical school (Syracuse Medical College in New York), with Dr. Blackwell being the first in 1949.

What is the oldest surgeon? ›

A 100-year-old Ohio man who holds the Guinness World Record for being the oldest practising doctor, says that he has no immediate plans to retire. In February 2021, when he was 98 years and 231 days old, Dr. Howard Tucker of Cleveland received initial recognition as the oldest practising physician in the world.

Who is the first doctor in the world? ›

The first physician to emerge is Imhotep, chief minister to King Djoser in the 3rd millennium bce, who designed one of the earliest pyramids, the Step Pyramid at Ṣaqqārah, and who was later regarded as the Egyptian god of medicine and identified with the Greek god Asclepius.

Who was the first general surgeon? ›

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris was appointed as California's first-ever Surgeon General by Gov.

Who is the best celebrity plastic surgeon in India? ›

Dr Viral Desai is one of the best celebrity cosmetic surgeons in India. He has worked with the best Bollywood actors, politicians & so many other high-profile clients.

What is the rank of India in plastic surgery? ›

India is now ranked fourth among plastic surgery hotspots. In this article, we shall cover everything you should know before considering plastic surgery in India. Every one of us has this desire to look beautiful, to have that perfect body that we dream of, to have the ideal smile, and whatnot.

Who created plastic surgery? ›

The father of modern plastic surgery is generally considered to have been Sir Harold Gillies. A New Zealand otolaryngologist working in London, he developed many of the techniques of modern facial surgery in caring for soldiers with disfiguring facial injuries during the First World War.

Who is the father of plastic? ›

The Belgian-born chemist and entrepreneur Leo Baekeland invented Bakelite, the first fully synthetic plastic.

Which country is first in plastic surgery? ›

In total, the United States of America and Brazil accounted for 28.4% of all of the cosmetic procedures - surgical and non-surgical - in the world in 2018.
The Top Five Countries.
PositionCountryTotal procedures
1 more row
Jul 10, 2020

Who is the number 1 plastic surgeon in the US? ›

America's Best Plastic Surgeons 2021
1Dr. William P. Adams Jr. MDUniversity Park
2Dr. G. Patrick Maxwell, MDNashville
3Dr. Garth Fisher MDBeverly Hills
4Dr. Michael Zenn MD, FACS, MBARaleigh
74 more rows

What plastic surgeon did Kardashians use? ›

The Kardashian family plastic surgeon

The Kardashian family likes to work with Dr. Fisher for his caring attention and outstanding, red carpet ready results. Kourtney Kashdashian had breast augmentation from Dr. Fisher, and she chose to go up one cup size.

What was Sushruta advice to his pupils? ›

Sushrutha was also an excellent teacher. He told his pupils that one could become a good physician only if one knew both theory and practice. He advised his pupils to use carcasses and models for practice before surgery.

What is the main focus of Sushruta study? ›

Sushruta attracted a number of disciples who were known as Saushrutas and required to study for six years before beginning hands-on surgical training. Before starting their training, they took a solemn oath to devote themselves to healing and to do no harm to others, often compared to Hippocratic Oath.

Who taught Ayurveda to Sushruta? ›

Sushruta is reverentially held in Hindu tradition to be a descendant of Dhanvantari, the mythical god of medicine, or as one who received the knowledge from a discourse from Dhanvantari in Varanasi.

How many things were discovered by the Sushruta? ›

A History of Medicine in 50 Discoveries.

What surgeries did Sushruta do? ›

Sushruta and Plastic Surgery

He brilliantly described reconstruction of the nose by a pedicled cheek flap in addition to repair of a cut earlobe, piercing of an earlobe, repair of a lacerated lip, skin grafting, classification of burns, wound care, and wound healing.

How long did Shalihotra allow Sushruta to find missing things? ›

Solution. Shalihotra allowed one week to find the missing things.

What was the first thing Sushruta that was missing? ›

Curious to find out what those three things were, Sushruta observed his teacher carefully for the next one week. Before operating the horse, Shalihotra observed every part of the horse. And then Sushruta found the first missing thing! 'A good veterinarian should have an eagle's eye.

Who was Sushruta short answer? ›

Sushruta was an Indian Ayurvedic physician who is known as the 'Father of Indian Medicine' or 'Father of Surgery'. One of the world's earliest works on medicine and surgery was written by him. Shalihotra gained all his knowledge of Surgery from him. Sushruta only found the three things needed to operate the horse.

What questions did Shalihotra ask Sushruta? ›

Solution. Shalihotra asked Sushruta what all he would need to perform surgery on a wonderful horse.

Why Indian doctors are best? ›

1. Despite limited resources, Indian doctors provide one of the highest quality of care in the word – Harvard & Bloomberg. This could be a model for US Healthcare. This might come as pleasant surprise for you: Doctors in both private and public healthcare in India provide one of the highest quality of care.

Who is the No 1 physician in India? ›

Anantha Subramaniam - General Physician - 48 Yrs. Exp.

Which country has the best doctors in the world? ›

the United States

How was plastic surgery done in ancient India? ›

The earliest replantations were done by Lord Shiva by attaching an elephant's head on his son's body and by Ashwini Kumars who successfully replanted the severed head of Yagna. Thus the history of plastic surgery in India dates as far back or before the Vedic times nearly 4000 years ago.

Why is the method of plastic surgery known as Hindu method? ›

Ans. The method of plastic surgery is known as the Hindu method because a great Hindu Surgeon Sushruta described an operation for repairing a disfigured nose.

Does India have good plastic surgery? ›

Plastic surgery in India is a good option for those looking for various correctional and reconstructive surgeries as the services offered by Indian hospitals and clinics are quite affordable as compared to the west. Worldwide, an increasing number of people are opting for plastic and cosmetic surgeries.

Who is the most respected doctor in the world? ›


Shiong is known as the best doctor in the world and also one of the richest doctors in the world. He is a South African-American transplant surgeon, billionaire businessman, bioscientist, and media owner.

What is the hardest surgeon to become? ›

Based on our comprehensive analysis, the top most competitive specialties are as follows:
  • Plastic Surgery.
  • ENT.
  • Dermatology.
  • Orthopedic Surgery.
  • Neurosurgery.
  • Thoracic Surgery.
  • Urology.
  • Vascular Surgery.
Sep 11, 2022

Who is the most genius doctor in the world? ›

List of Top 10 Doctors in the World
  • Dr Fouad. ...
  • Dr Khalid Abbed, M.D. ...
  • Dr Naresh Trehan. ...
  • Dr Arthur Reese Abright, M.D. ...
  • Dr Corrie T.M Anderson, M.D. ...
  • Dr Mark. F. ...
  • Dr Sudhansu Bhattacharyya, MBBS, MS, MCH. Dr Sudhansu is one of the best Indian Cardiovascular Surgeons and has 36 plus years of experience. ...
  • Dr Mona. M.
Sep 9, 2022

Who came first Charak or Sushruta? ›

Estimates place the Charaka-samhita in its present form as dating from the 1st century ce, although there were earlier versions. The Sushruta-samhita probably originated in the last centuries bce and had become fixed in its present form by the 7th century ce.

Why is Sushruta called the father of surgery? ›

Sushruta's medical prowess is exhibited through his writings on rhinoplasty surgery, involving nasal reconstructions using skin from the patient's forehead or cheek, often for criminals punished with amputations.

Who is the father of all surgery? ›


Who is the god of surgery? ›

Machaon, a Greek heroic warrior and king, who ascended to a deity in the ancient world, is deemed as the Father of Surgery. In his name, battle and medicine were attached together and glorified. His divine origin granted prestige to the discipline of surgery, which was celebrated in his name by Homer.

Who is the first Ayurvedic doctor in world? ›

Ayurveda is attributed to Dhanvantari, the physician to the gods in Hindu mythology, who received it from Brahma. Its earliest concepts were set out in the portion of the Vedas known as the Atharvaveda (c. 2nd millennium bce). The period of Vedic medicine lasted until about 800 bce.

Did Indians invent surgery? ›

During the 6th Century BCE, an Indian physician named Sushruta – widely regarded in India as the 'father of surgery' – wrote one of the world's earliest works on medicine and surgery.

Who is the famous surgeon in India? ›

Panda has performed about 28,000 successful cardiac surgeries as of 2022, including over 1,900 redo bypass surgeries. He was conferred the Padma Bhushan in 2010 by the government of India. Panda is also called 'one of the safest heart surgeons in the world' and 'the 'surgeon with the safest hands'.

Who was first doctor or Indian? ›

Dr. Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi (31 March 1865 – 26 February 1887) was the first Indian female doctor of western medicine. She was the first woman from the erstwhile Bombay presidency of India to study and graduate with a two-year degree in western medicine in the United States.

Who was the first doctor in the Bible? ›

According to tradition, St. Luke was a physician and possibly a Gentile. He was not one of the original 12 Apostles but may have been one of the 70 disciples appointed by Jesus (Luke 10).

Who was the first black doctor? ›

Dr. James McCune Smith graduates from the University of Glasgow, becoming the first African American to earn a medical degree.


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