A Brief History of Breast Augmentation
- It is 50 years since the first breast enlargement using silicone implants. Today it rates as the second-most popular form of cosmetic surgery worldwide, undergone by 1.5 million women in 2010.
The 19th century
Since the late nineteenth century, breast implant devices have been used to surgically augment the size (volume), modify the shape (contour), and enhance the feel (tact) of a woman’s breasts. In 1895, surgeon Vincenz Czerny effected the earliest breast implant emplacement when he used the patient’s autologous adipose tissue, harvested from a benign lumbar lipoma, to repair the asymmetry of the breast from which he had removed a tumor. In 1889, surgeon Robert Gersuny experimented with paraffin injections, with disastrous results. From the first half of the twentieth century, physicians used other substances as breast implant fillers — ivory, glass balls, ground rubber, ox cartilage, Terylene wool, gutta-percha, Dicora, polyethylene chips, Ivalon (polyvinyl alcohol – formaldehyde polymer sponge), a polyethylene sac with Ivalon, polyether foam sponge (Etheron), polyethylene tape (Polystan) strips wound into a ball, polyester(polyurethane foam sponge) Silastic rubber, and teflon-silicone prostheses.
The 20th century
In the mid-twentieth century, Morton I. Berson, in 1945, and Jacques Maliniac, in 1950, each performed flap-based breast augmentations by rotating the patient’s chest wall tissue into the breast to increase its volume. Furthermore, throughout the 1950s and the 1960s, plastic surgeons used synthetic fillers — including silicone injections received by some 50,000 women, from which developed silicone granulomas and breast hardening that required treatment bymastectomy. In 1961, the American plastic surgeons Thomas Cronin and Frank Gerow, and the Dow Corning Corporation, developed the first silicone breast prosthesis, filled with silicone gel; in due course, the first augmentation mammoplasty was performed in 1962 using the Cronin–Gerow Implant, prosthesis model 1963. In 1964, the French company Laboratoires Arion developed and manufactured the saline breast implant, filled with saline solution, and then introduced for use as a medical device in 1964.
The 50-year history of breast implants had begun, a history of controversy and success. What no one knew back then was just how phenomenally popular breast augmentation surgery would become – the last available figures from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery show it was the most popular form of cosmetic surgery in the US in 2010, with 318,123 augmentations performed.
Where We Are Now
There have been many advances over the decades, like 3D-imaging, and implants that are increasingly rupture-proof – and the range has widened.
In the early days, we only had four choices or sizes – large, medium, small and petite. Now we have over 450 choices.
Around the world, breast enlargement is now the second-most popular cosmetic surgery operation, after liposuction (the removal of fat). In many countries – it is the most popular operation.
It’s not only used by women who want to perfect their body shape but also by patients who have undergone mastectomy as a result of breast cancer.