Brief History of Aesthetic Medicine and Why It’s Today’s Hottest Specialty

AAAMS aesthetic medicine history

It’s a fact: Marilyn Monroe had a chin implant in the 1950s. And while that might seem like ancient history, it’s only yesterday in the long arc of aesthetic medicine. 

The desire to be perceived as beautiful is as old as human nature, and thus it should come as no surprise that aesthetic medicine began millennia ago:

  • The first forehead flap procedure for reconstructive rhinoplasty was first documented in India nearly 2,000 years ago. 
  • Ancient Egyptian royalty created face masks of highly acidic crocodile dung and river mud that functioned on the same principles as contemporary chemical peels. 
  • Members of the medieval aristocracy used poison from the deadly nightshade plant to dilate their pupils. (The parallels between the use of this poison and modern-day nature-derived neuromodulators like Botox are unmistakable.)
  • In Victorian England, upper-class women used mercury and arsenic to lighten their skin. 

Pretty Pays—The Mushrooming Market for Aesthetic Medicine

There’s clearly ample evidence that human beings have long gone to great lengths to enhance their physical appearance through any means possible. And this makes sense. After all, research tells us what almost everyone knows intuitively: Physically attractive people enjoy a considerable social advantage over their less attractive counterparts. 

Moreover, study after study shows that beautiful people are consistently perceived as more virtuous, trustable, and worthy of protection and care. Being physically attractive is a reliable predictor of financial success and can even play a significant role in being acquitted of a crime

With the prominent role that beauty plays in almost every aspect of human life, it’s no wonder that the market for aesthetic procedures continues to mushroom and that RNs, NPs, PAs, physicians, and even dentists pursue Botox and filler training to capitalize on consumer demand. 

Aesthetic Medicine Comes of Age—A Brief Timeline 

But for as long as human beings have prized beauty and as long as aesthetic medicine has existed, it’s only in the last hundred years or so that it’s come of age. Today, aesthetic medicine relies on a wide array of tools, technologies, products, and treatments that deliver results that even 50 years ago might have seemed like the stuff of science fiction. And many of the staples of aesthetic medicine have been around in their current incarnation for only the past 20-40 years:   

1992. A Canadian ophthalmologist and dermatologist pen a piece on the treatment of glabellar lines with Clostridium botulinum-A neurotoxin, leading to the birth of Botox and the widespread use of neuromodulators for cosmetic applications. 

1996. The FDA receives a report detailing the adverse effects of hair loss in patients treated with intense pulsed light. One man’s unwanted hair loss is another woman’s cosmetic treatment, and laser hair removal was born. 

1998. A Swedish doctor presents the first clinical study on soft tissue augmentation with hyaluronic acid, positioning it to become the worldwide standard for the effective treatment of fine lines and facial volumization. Today, popular hyaluronic acid products include Restylane, Elevess, Hylaform, Juvederm, Perlane, and more. 

1999. Poly-L-lactic acid—a synthetic, biodegradable, reabsorbable polymer

appears on the scene for cosmetic applications—easily recognized today in its incarnation as the long-lasting dermal filler, Sculptra. 

2005. The first clinical trial begins for the cosmetic use of deoxycholic acid, an injectable compound for dissolving fat and now marketed under the brand name Kybella.

2005 to Today. A new generation of aesthetic injectables continues to emerge. Products currently in development include longer-lasting neuromodulators and ready-to-use liquid formulations that promise to make the practice of aesthetic medicine more accessible and profitable than ever before.  

AAAMS Prepares the Next Generation of Aesthetics Practitioners for Today’s Hottest Specialty

AAAMS (The American Association of Aesthetic Medicine and Surgery) is the premier, fully-accredited platform for excellence in leading-edge aesthetics education. When you train with AAAMS, you get the knowledge, skills, hands-on experience, and confidence you need to successfully advance your career with aesthetic medicine. With world-class instructors, thoughtfully designed courses, and a comprehensive yet accelerated pathway to certification, we put top-tier aesthetics training in accessible, affordable reach. 

And because breaking into a new specialty is that much easier with ongoing support, we created the AAAMS Aesthetics Network. It instantly connects you to others aspiring aesthetics practitioners, seasoned industry experts, a library of exclusive learning resources for taking your knowledge to the next level, invitations to special events, discounts on AAAMS courses, and much, much more. 

Join Us!

Since 2006, we’ve trained more than 5,000 healthcare practitioners for rewarding careers in aesthetic medicine with courses that are as rigorous as they are enjoyable. If you’re ready to take the leap into today’s hottest specialty, you’ll love training with AAAMS. Visit our website to learn more about us, explore our courses, and get started on your latest and greatest career adventure today!