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Gaspare Tagliacozzi (1545-99)

Gaspare Tagliacozzi was an Italian surgeon based at the University of Bologna, one of the great medical centres of the 1500s. Tagliacozzi became famous for his skill in reconstructive surgery, and especially for the ‘Italian method’ of rhinoplasty, which differed from the ‘Indian method’ that was employed by surgeons such as Susrata.

Tagliacozzi improved the reconstructive surgery methods that had been developed in Italy in the 1400s and 1500s to repair noses which had been amputated, usually in war. The ‘Italian method’ took skin from the arm, using specially designed instruments to make the correct shape. Then the flap of skin from the arm, called a pedicle, was attached to the nose. The patient's arm was bandaged in the raised position for about 20 days or until the skin of the arm had attached itself to the nose. The pedicle was then severed from the arm and after 14 days the attached skin was shaped so that it resembled the nose.

Tagliacozzi did not confine his expertise to rhinoplasty. He also wrote a book detailing reconstructive surgery procedures for lips and ears.

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W F Bynum and H Bynum, Dictionary of Medical Biography (Westport: Greenwood Press, 2007)

M Teach Gnudi and J P Webster, The Life and Times of Gaspare Tagliacozzi, Surgeon of Bologna (1545-1599) (Bologna and New York: Reichner, 1950)