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History of Plastic Surgery


Greek cosmetic plastic surgeon Dr Lyras and the very best Plastic Dreams

Greek plastic Surgeon Doctor Yanni Lyras
Joao Lyra  

(by Teresa O' Driscoll from the "Athens News" daily newspaper,1997)

A number of years ago, on Kensington High in London, I came across á young, blind woman who was obviously in distress. She had become disoriented, so, arm-in- arm, we walked to where she needed to be. Along the way, she told me her name was Linda and that she'd just come out of hospital after á two-year stay, following á car crash, which had caused her to lose her sight and had nearly cost her life. She'd had over 50 operations to rebuild her face and asked me how she looked. I told her honestly that she looked good. She had lost one of her senses but plastic surgery had enabled her to rejoin á world, which shies away from disfigurement.

"Plastic surgery started as á surgical specialty to treat war wounds," said Dr Ioannis Lyras, án eminent plastic surgeon in Athens. "The name comes from the Greek word "platho" meaning `I sculpt' and is the surgery of giving form. Its development can be divided into three areas: First World War; post-Second World War; and late '70's. In the First World War there were so many casualties with serious wounds that there had to be surgeons available to deal with them on á daily basis; so, reconstructive plastic surgery was developed, initially in England and France, before spreading to Germany and Japan. After the Second World War, Dr Pitanguy of Brazil considered the father of modern plastic surgery and other doctors were not content that á person had survived, although terribly disfigured, they also wanted him to look as normal as possible and that is how aesthetics became part of reconstructive plastic surgery. Now, the Brazilian School is far and away the best in the world. Then, ßn the late '70s, there was the rapid development of the North American School. In summary, plastic surgery, bloomed into what is regarded as the most interesting modern surgical specialty today." Lyras was born in Greece 40 years ago and studied medicine in New York. He specialised in plastic surgery at Professor Pitanguy's school ßn Brazil and was highly' impressed by both the man and his country. He appears to have been á star pupil and the two still cooperate closely together. Techniques have advanced quickly in Brazil and these are presented at its annual National Congress, which attracts plastic surgeons from around the world. "The Hippocratic oath says `Love your professor as your father, love your colleagues as your brothers and teach your students everything you know about the profession, and in Brazil that is adhered to, " he says.

Lyras returned to Greece á few years ago and now has á thriving private practice ßn partnership with his wife, Dr Paris Raptis, a leading endocrinologist and spokesperson on these matters for the Athens Medical Association. "The Greek population is very much like the Latin American as far as plastic surgery is concerned and they immediately liked what I do, " he says. "É am very happy that my medical specialty is one, which does not deal with death. This is very important, because, when É was doing my general surgery, death was á part of the fight against cancer, other illnesses and the after math of major accidents. " He clearly relishes what he does and says: "The satisfaction is immediate, firstly because the results appear rapidly and, secondly, because the person you have operated on feels more attractive and happier, so you have touched a soul too and that's á nice thing."

Modern plastic surgery can be divided into two main areas; reconstructive surgery, we will give back say, á chin; or nose, or á eyelid, lost in á accident or give back á breast removed because of cancer [photographs of his work after mastectomy show what appears to be á miraculous restoration of the lost breast]. When we say aesthetic surgery, we mean two main things: removing the wrinkles and flaccidity caused by aging, treating either part of the face such as the neck or eyes, or the whole face; or improving physical features, like making á big nose smaller, making the breasts look larger, or smaller, or more beautiful by improving the lines. We remove excess skin and fat that accumulates in the abdominal area after childbirth and we use liposuction to remove fat from the thighs. We make á person look slimmer. We make scars resulting from accidents diminish or even disappear and we make scars caused by burns appear smaller. Although this constitutes the majority of our work, we also perform other, associated surgery. Altering á nose is the most popular aesthetic plastic surgery in Greece. It can correct breathing problems as well as the shape of the nose. The second most popular is breast augmentation or reduction. Some women's breasts fail to develop after puberty, whilst others overdevelop; sagging after childbirth is also á major problem. (Augmentation has been performed since the '60s and the quality of the implants is constantly improving). The 1998 model is like á drop of water; the surface is textured so it doesn't move around, and the interior is cohesive silicon gel. Face-lifts are also common here. The skin starts to sag around menopause. With á mini face-lift, only the excess skin is removed, so the results only last about one year. The classic face-lift however, lasts about 15 years, as the supporting muscles are simultaneously treated by means of microsurgery. Õïõ may opt to have other problems treated at the same time.

Every face is different and the variety of techniques used to correct problems changes from person to person. Laser treatment for things such as wrinkles or birthmarks require incisions and are much in demand. "Resurfacing the skin with laser is fantastic, " says Lyras. "It produces á superficial, controlled burn and, when this heals, the wrinkles have disappeared. " The procedure, invented 20 years ago and upgraded four years ago, is carried out under local anesthetic. Photographs of the effects of this on his clients were impressive. Healing takes á week and then, for two or six weeks, the reddened skin is concealed with makeup.

Liposuction is another treatment, which needs no incisions and was developed by á French doctor in 1980. Initially, it attracted some bad press as inexperienced people performed it. "Now it's almost perfect, " he comments. Liposuction on the thighs is very popular in Greece, as is recycling the removed fat to result other areas of the body. "In the last two years I've operated on 500 women who wanted to enlarge their calves with it, " he says.

"Plastic surgery is now becoming á way of life. In California, for example, there is á body of some 3,000 plastic surgeons and if you don't enlist their services, you are out of vogue. In Greece too, physical aesthetics is becoming a very serious business and, though there are á mere 200 plastic surgeons and only about 10 of these have private practices, they perform some 10,000 operations each year. If you want to have plastic surgery, the best way to find a good surgeon is to ask around and when you've narrowed down the field, check out their credentials. "If you have á friend whose operation proved successful and if the doctor studied abroad, then you're not going to have any problems," comments Lyras...