Breast augmentation increases the size of the breasts and enhances a woman’s figure to let her feel more confident in her appearance. Breast augmentation continues to be one of the most frequently performed plastic surgery procedures in the United States. Just about everyone knows someone who has breast implants.
However, there was a time when breast augmentation techniques and implants were quite rudimentary. Here, experienced plastic surgeon Stephen Hardy discusses the history of breast augmentation to give our Missoula, MT patients a better understanding of how surgeons developed the modern approach to breast augmentation surgery.
The First Breast Augmentation
The first known breast augmentation procedure dates back much further than most people would guess, all the way back to 1895. This procedure, which was performed in Germany, was not intended to enlarge the breasts for cosmetic reasons, but rather to restore symmetry after a woman underwent the removal of a benign tumor.
During this reconstructive procedure, Dr. Vincent Czerny used fat from the female patient’s hip to add volume to the affected breast. The success of this surgery quickly opened the door for women seeking to enlarge the breasts for purely cosmetic reasons.
Early Implant Materials
In the late 1890s, surgeons were primarily relying on paraffin to enlarge the breasts. The paraffin, which was a mixture of Vaseline and olive oil, was injected directly into the breast cavity.
While this provided attractive results for a few years, the material would eventually harden. Complications from paraffin injections included lumps, ulcers, and even blindness. Many women had to undergo breast amputation to prevent further health problems.
During the early 1900s, surgeons continued to experiment with different implant materials. Some of the more strange experimentations included glass balls, epoxy resin, ground rubber, and ox cartilage.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, surgeons began using polyethylene tape or a product called the Ivalon sponge. These materials were much safer than paraffin, but they only lasted about a year or so before hardening up and causing the breasts to actually shrink in size.
The Modern Breast Implant
It wasn’t until the early 1960s that surgeons came up with the idea of a contained implant, or one that prevented implant materials from sitting directly in the breast tissues.
After noticing that a bag of blood felt very similar to a natural breast, Drs. Thomas Cronin and Frank Gerow constructed the first silicone implant. This new type of implant was actually tested on a dog before it was successfully placed in a woman.
When the silicone implant proved to be a success, doctors continued to perfect the design of the bag implant. In 1964, a French company introduced the first saline implant. This implant was similar to the silicone implant, but it could be inserted empty and then filled once it was in place.
Saline implants saw a surge in popularity during the 1990s and 2000s, when silicone implants were briefly banned by the FDA. Since 2006, both silicone and saline implants have FDA approval and continue to be the most popular implant choices.
With customized features like size, shape, and texture, every woman can find a breast implant that meets her unique needs and desires.
Today’s breast augmentation procedure offers women a safe and effective way to enhance the figure and improve confidence. If you would like to learn more about breast augmentation and whether it is right for you, contact us at your earliest convenience. You can call (406) 728-3811 to set up a personal evaluation with Dr. Stephen Hardy.