The world of medicine can be a pretty scary one. Even when it seems like we have it all figured out, someone surfaces with a new disease or terrifying condition that baffles the greatest of doctors. There are still so many diseases and illnesses that can only be treated and managed to a safe level but never completely cured. We’re constantly learning things about our body, and even after a study is completed, we sometimes discover that the answers we got were totally wrong. It seems like in a time when we can instantly find out anything we want using the little thing in our pocket, we’d be walking around with bionic parts. However, even in 2017, we’re still searching for so many medical answers.
There’s no denying that we’ve come a pretty long way, however. Unfortunately, patients over 100 years ago weren’t nearly as lucky as we are when it comes to getting the medical care and answers we need. We literally put our lives in the hands of doctors, trusting they know what they’re doing to keep us safe. As much time and money as they put into their education however, they’re still often wrong about a lot of things. The only way to figure out if something works is to test it, and unfortunately, in the past, humans were often used as guinea pigs.
Perhaps in 100 years, someone will create a list of crazy medical practices, and it will include things we do now that we think will help improve our health. In the meantime though, here are 15 Rare Vintage Medical Photos That Will Haunt Your Dreams:
15. The Old Way To Get A Nose Job
For many celebrities, getting a nose job is like getting a haircut. It’s a quick procedure that they’re often expected to undergo in order to conform to society’s unrealistic body expectations. It certainly wasn’t always so easy to get a fix, however. The photograph above shows a woman who was using the skin on her arm to grow as the skin on her face. This procedure wasn’t that uncommon in the past as syphilis used to be so difficult to treat, it often progressed to the point that it ate away at the flesh on the victim’s face. This was embarrassing as it often gave a clue that its sufferers had an STD. In order to hide the condition and manage its effects, many people had to undergo the painful and uncomfortable process of growing skin on their face, just like the woman above did. Thankfully, syphilis is now much easier to treat, and we don’t have to suffer its devastating effects like people from earlier times used to.
14. Keeping Insane Patients Wrapped Warm And Tight
If you have a crying baby, some people believe that wrapping them up tight and keeping them warm will help calm them. Apparently, doctors used to believe this was also the way to do things for adults experiencing symptoms of insanity. In the photograph, the method seems to be effective, as everyone is laying nice and quiet, but we can’t help but feel like this picture is a bit unsettling. There’s something about living people wrapped up tightly like mummies and laying uniformly in beds that just doesn’t sit right with us. The whole tone of the situation certainly seems a bit eerie. Moreover, the most troubling part of the photo is that these people probably aren’t experiencing the same types of mental illness, and yet, all of them were made to undergo the wrapping treatment. Sure, everyone needs to be calmed down every once in a while, but just wrapping all types of mentally unstable patients doesn’t really seem to be a proper solution.
13. Minimal Pain Relief For Amputation
Nowadays, if you need something amputated, you’re going to have a huge team of specialists, doctors, and nurses to help with the procedure. There’s a person specifically assigned to monitor your breathing while you’re under anesthetic, someone to perform the surgery, and plenty of assistants to help. Things didn’t always use to be so monitored, however. There used to just be a guy who held an ether-soaked napkin up to your face and made sure you kept a pulse while your limb was hacked off. They would also cut into you like you were a tree stump, not being too careful about the major arteries and other threats that came with removing body parts. This was common practice in many war-torn areas, and it certainly and undeniably resulted in some positive effects in many patients. However, we’re still thankful that nowadays, if ever we need to get a limb removed, we’ll be in a much safer environment.
12. A Doctor Operating On Himself
For some of us, tweezing our hairs or ripping a band-aid off our own bodies can be pretty painful. If you’re a Russian doctor, however, your pain tolerance might be so high that you would have no problem operating on yourself. The doctor above was one of only three in the area at the time he needed intestinal surgery. He also happened to be the only one who could perform it. Nowadays, if another doctor needed surgery, he’d have endless options. This wasn’t always the case though, and finding a good doctor used to be next to impossible. Hey, they always say though that if you’re afraid the job won’t get done right, just do it yourself. However, it seems like to be able to perform surgery on yourself, you’d need to have strong mental health while simultaneously being a little bit mentally unstable. Luckily for Leonid Rogozov, the doctor in the photo above, the surgery was a success, cementing his status as a medical legend for his monumental achievement.
11. A Dissection Room
It may seem like there’s nothing too scary about the photograph above; however, the overall look of it can be rather spine-chilling. It displays the normal sight of students learning about their future patients’ bodies by studying the corpses of the recently deceased. It’s still a common learning tool that medical students use today and makes sense as the best way for new doctors to learn about bodies without harming anyone living. However, some elements of the photograph, when looked at more closely, can be unsettling. For one, the deceased subjects on the tables look more like aliens than normal human beings. Second, we’re used to seeing doctors in scrubs operating on silver tables in immaculate areas, not doctors wearing nice clothes and hairstyles in an obviously unsterile environment. And perhaps, the most chilling aspect of the picture is that most of the strange procedures these students learned are probably now obsolete.
10. A Lobotomy
Lobotomies are by far one of the scariest medical procedures in the history of all things medicine. Although a few are still done today in only the most extreme cases, nothing compares to the time when doctors thought this was the safest and best solution for the mentally ill. The process involved taking a sharp ice pick, hammering it through someone’s eye, and basically scrambling the front part of the brain that was mainly responsible for one’s personality. The result was even more terrifying than the actual procedure itself. The patients would often turn into virtual zombies, only being able to understand things the way a child would. And though some patients actually ended up being rid of some of the symptoms of their insanity, their personality traits were often wiped out in the process. Worst though was that some patients ended up seeming even more insane than they were to begin with. And not everyone who was made to undergo a lobotomy was even mentally ill; many were performed on strong-willed women and homosexuals simply because they were different.
9. A Patient With Syphilis
As we’ve already discussed, syphilis used to be much more common and deadly than it is today. Many people who get syphilis now will only experience minor symptoms if they seek treatment immediately. If not, however, there can be devastating results. Not all syphilis infections are the same and even the same kinds don’t affect all victims in similar ways. Like we saw in the woman earlier who was getting plastic surgery, syphilis can eat at someone’s face until they hardly have any flesh left. Another harmful way syphilis can affects people is by causing parts of the body to actually swell. The result is the image you see above. And although syphilis is easily managed and cured now, we ought to remember that many disease-causing organisms are becoming immune to antibiotics commonly used to kill them, thus potentially making this picture of the past a picture of the future.
8. H—–n Used To Be A Common Treatment
There’s no denying that heroin is a huge problem in our country today. There’s a chance that everyone who reads this knows someone whose life was adversely affected by heroin use. The drug is incredibly addicting and can be deadly. Instead of being a problem, however, heroin used to be a solution for many doctors. It helps to numb pain of all kinds and ensures the comfortableness of the patient. In fact, when it was first discovered, it would’ve been crazy for doctors not to prescribe it to their patients who were in great pain. Unfortunately, after heroin’s incredible discovery came the devastating realization that this drug was incredibly addictive and could quickly ruin the lives of those taking it. Even if heroin-dependent patients wanted to quit taking the substance, like most addicts, they many of them would’ve been unable to as they would’ve felt very sick without the drug. Luckily we know better today, and our painkillers are now much less likely to cause long-term harm.
7. Arousal Prevention Tool
There used to be a time when masturbating was greatly frowned upon and seen as a dangerous symptom of the mentally ill. Before we explain what the tool above was used for, try and take a minute to figure out for yourself how it works. Ready? What used to happen to male patients who struggled with controlling their urges was that they’d be forced to wear the device above. Their manhood would slip through the smooth hole first, and then the spiky part was adjusted so that it was ever so lightly touching the skin. Then, if a male patient became aroused for any reason and his member began to grow and swell, he would feel the spikes begin to jam into his penis, thus quickly reversing the effect of the arousal. But with the way our culture is now, this might actually arouse people more! Seriously speaking though, it’s safe to assume that most men today would be glad that this device is a thing of the past.
6. A Vintage Ambulance
Nowadays, if there’s an accident that requires medical attention, we can call 911 and have a mini hospital sent to our house. And while ambulances can’t always treat everything, they certainly provide the best medical attention in emergency situations. This was certainly not always the case, however. Early ambulances were just a horse and buggy and weren’t able to carry a lot of the medical supplies that ambulances have now. It’s not difficult to imagine that certain death would’ve met patients suffering from the most serious emergencies if they were picked up by these unequipped ambulances. How did a seriously ill patient even get loaded into one of these things anyway?
5. A Man Who Lost His Jaw
Many people didn’t think it was real at first, but the man in the photograph above did indeed lose the lower half of his jaw. It was the result of war, as he was a soldier who was attacked by the enemy. Some might say he was lucky for getting away with his life, but the fact remains that after the incident, he was never able to eat, talk, kiss, smile, laugh, or do most anything with his mouth that he used to be able to do. Actually, the other parts were still there, but the part that brought them all together was not. What happened to this man was absolutely devastating, but the fact that his body was strong enough to keep him alive is truly incredible. Think about it: in a time when we were scrambling people’s brains and giving children heroin, doctors were able to keep a man, who lost the majority of his face, alive.
4. Utrechtse Krop
Utrechtse Krop was a rare condition that no longer exists today. The effects were pretty similar to that of syphilis in which the body would swell from the inside. Fortunately, this was a rare and isolated disease that didn’t affect a large portion of the population. It’s interesting to think of how many diseases and illnesses used to exist in the world that no longer do. Like much else in the world, however, that gives us the scary realization that there are sure to be a countless number of diseases out there we have yet to discover. After all, as science and nature evolve, so do all the terrible things that can make the world a much scarier place; as soon as we discover the cure for one thing, it seems as if a new thing develops resistance.
3. Holes In Skulls To “Release Demons”
Mental health is still probably one of the least understood branches of medicine to this day. That’s because it was late to the party when it came to research and studies. Many people, associating mental health with demons and religion, used to believe that those exhibiting bad behavior were potentially possessed. The best way they thought to fix this? Drill a hole in the patient’s head so the demons could be released. Yes, there was a long period in history in which people believed drilling a hole all the way through a mentally ill patient’s skull would result in improved behavior because the demons were no longer going to be stuck in there! A disobedient wife who likes to read at night? Drill a hole in her head! A son who likes to party instead of studying a topic that he has no passion for? Drill a hole in his head! This is probably the medical procedure on the list we’re happiest is now gone.
2. A Cancer Treatment
Cancer is another epidemic that many of us have lost loved ones too. We still don’t have a sure way to treat it and only hope that with certain medicines and procedures, it will go away. However, although we still can’t guarantee remission for all patients, we certainly have better chances with the way doctors do things now than with the way they used to. Look at the photograph above, for example. The patient was suffering from throat cancer, and the best solution they had back then was to undergo the treatment shown above. Honestly, it’s confusing to figure out exactly what’s going on in the picture. However, we’re pretty certain that the treatment wasn’t very effective. So while we still haven’t found a sure way of beating cancer, we’re certainly appreciative that this terrifying mask is no longer one of the options for treatment.
1. A Prevention Against The Plague
Plague is a bacterial disease that can rapidly spread through the air, and when you have an airborne illness, there’s a good chance it’s going to affect a portion of a society very quickly. The best way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to prevent it in the first place. The common way to prevent the plague used to involve the terrifying masks you see above. The beak of the mask was filled with floral scents because it was believed the Plague spread through things that smelled bad. Today, we know this not to be true, but the Plague mask was a common preventive measure for people who wanted to avoid the disease. Lucky for us, the Plague is long gone, and these pointless masks are nothing more than novelties at this point. However, it’s probably wise to keep in mind that although this photo, and the others on this list, are terrifying to look at, they serve as constant reminders both of how far we’ve come in the medical field and of all the things humanity still has left to learn.