Dermatologic Surgical Instruments: A History and Review

Dermatol Surg. 2017 Jan;43(1):11-22. doi: 10.1097/DSS.0000000000000911.


Background: Dermatologic surgery requires precision and accuracy given the delicate nature of procedures performed. The use of the most appropriate instrument for each action helps optimize both functionality and cosmetic outcome.

Objective: To review the history of surgical instruments used in dermatology, with a focus on mechanism and evolution to the instruments that are used in current practice.

Materials and methods: A comprehensive literature search was conducted via textbook and journal research for historic references while review of current references was conducted online using multiple search engines and PubMed.

Results: There are a number of articles that review instruments in dermatology, but this article adds a unique perspective in classifying their evolution, while also presenting them as levers that serve to increase human dexterity during the course of surgery.

Conclusion: Surgical instruments allow fine manipulation of tissue, which in turn produces optimal outcomes. Surgical tools have been around since the dawn of man, and their evolution parallels the extent to which human civilization has specialized over time. This article describes the evolution of instruments from the general surgical armamentaria to the specialized tools that are used today.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dermatologic Surgical Procedures / instrumentation*
  • Equipment Design / history*
  • History, 15th Century
  • History, 16th Century
  • History, 17th Century
  • History, 18th Century
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • History, Ancient
  • History, Medieval
  • Humans
  • Mechanical Phenomena
  • Surgical Instruments / history*