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The history of breast implants


Nowadays, breast augmentation is one of the world’s most popular cosmetic procedures. In the UK, around 10,000 women decide to have breast enlargement surgery every year. Like most medical procedures, however, this kind of surgery has gone through a few transformations to get to where it is today.

The beginning

What we think as a relatively modern procedure actually started in 1895, with German surgeon and cancer specialist, Vincenz Czerny. Czerny is often considered a leading pioneer in breast replacement and augmentation surgery. As a cancer surgeon, Czerny was responsible for removing a cancerous tumour in the breast from a singer. She was concerned about the asymmetry this surgery caused, leading Czerny to develop a method for reconstruction. Whilst this was a unique case, it inspired other surgeons to experiment with new ideas for breast augmentation, and so the procedure was born.

The experiments

During the following years, surgeons and scientists experimented with new ideas and techniques, some with disastrous results. Trials included everything from paraffin injections, ivory fillers, glass balls, rubber implants and ox cartilage, as well as solutions such as rotating interior chest tissue and silicon injections that had serious implications.

Modern implants

By 1961, American surgeons Thomas Cronin and Frank Gerow, along with the Dow Corning Corporation, developed the modern silicone implant and the first procedure using this was performed in 1962, on Texan factory worker Timmie Jean Lindsey, who is still alive and living with her implants today. From then on, the popularity of breast implants continued to grow to today’s levels.

This 1962 model was the first silicone implant and was a teardrop-shaped plastic bag filled with silicone gel. Over the years, this model has been continually developed and improved. Today’s silicone implants are very similar and consist of a high-strength, highly-cohesive silicone gel casing that is filled with either liquid or gel silicone. Whilst these types of implants have become associated with ruptures and silicone leakages, the strong casing makes this a rare occurrence.  Silicone implants have become known as ‘gummy bear’ implants for their ability to hold their shape and their firmer feel.

Saline implants are the other main breast implant used in augmentation procedures. These were developed in France in 1964, by Laboratoires Arion. Contemporary saline implants consist of a silicone rubber casing filled with a saline solution.

A study carried out by the University of Florida found that 80% of women displayed increased self-esteem following breast surgery.  Not only is breast enlargement a great contributor in boosting self-esteem, but also breast reconstruction is a great option for women looking to feel more like themselves again after breast cancer treatment and surgery.

As medical technologies advance, the cosmetic arena is continually developing, and new and exciting procedures may be just around the corner. If you’d like any advice on our safe and effective breast augmentation treatments, or to discuss the best options for you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the friendly and professional team at The McIndoe Centre who will be ha

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