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.
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.
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.
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.