Leonardo fioravanti (1517-1588): A BarberSurgeon who influenced the development of reconstructive surgery

Paolo Santoni-Rugiu, Riccardo Mazzola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Surgery in the Middle Ages was practiced by individuals belonging to the guild of barbers, with no basic medical education. The transformation into a scientific branch of medicine began in the sixteenth century. In this process, a great role was the one played by Leonardo Fioravanti. He was a Doctor in Medicine graduated from the University of Bologna. A controversial man, he was also an innovator in many fields of medicine, such as prevention of diseases, pharmacology, therapy, etc., and he was a surgeon himself. On the way back from one of the last Crusades, he visited the Vianeos brothers in Calabria, and he was able to learn from them the technique for reconstructing the nose that had been devised by Antonio Branca in the previous century and still practiced only by barber-surgeons. He published his experience in a book that probably inspired the contemporary, Caspare Tagliacozzi, Professor at the University of Bologna, and allowed him to become acquainted with this kind of reconstructive surgery. Tagliacozzi understood the value of the method described by Fioravanti and transformed a barber-surgery technique into a remarkable chapter of scientific surgery by divulging in the academic circles the principles of the pedicled flap, which have been the basis for development of modern plastic surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)570-575
Number of pages6
JournalPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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