A History of Implants

As a plastic surgeon, Dr. Peterson naturally talks a lot about breast implants. He speaks of the implant procedure, implant options, implant positioning, and, well, you get the picture. He is also well-versed in the history of breast implants and has even helped to make history regarding this plastic surgery procedure by participating in a research panel that ultimately determined that silicone breast implants were indeed safe for use.

In 1962, the first breast implant surgery to use silicone implants was performed in Houston, Texas by doctors Frank Gerow and Thomas Cronin. A half century later, the breast implant procedure is one of the top plastic surgery procedures performed in the United States each year. But the 1962 breast implant surgery was not medicine’s first foray into augmenting the breasts. In fact, attempts at augmentation had been going on for almost one hundred years before Gerow and Cronin performed their landmark surgery.

An external enlarging device labeled as a breast protector was patented in 1864 and is the first recorded attempt to augment the breasts. This device was essentially a padded bra, and not a physical way to augment the breasts as we know it. In 1890, however, doctors attempted to increase breast volume by injecting paraffin wax into the breast. Unfortunately, the wax leaked into other parts of the body, causing illness and other health complications. Later on, the early decades of the 20th century, physicians tried using a form of autologous fat transfer to increase breast size, but results wildly varied, mainly because liposuction had not been developed yet. Even as recent as the 1950s, breast implants were tested with materials like polyurethane, sponges, wood beads, and glass balls in failed attempts to enhance the bust line.

So then came the age of silicone, but the United States was not the first place to use this material to bolster bosoms. During WW2, Japanese prostitutes used silicone stolen from the American military and injected it into their breasts in hopes of attracting more business, per say. Unfortunately, those individuals who took their breast augmentation into their own hands (literally), ended up with infections and gangrene.

While silicone implants are completely safe, they did have a period in which they were banned in the United States. The reason behind this action was that there were purported, albeit them vague, links between silicone implants and autoimmune diseases like fibromyalgia. During the time they were prohibited, researchers investigated silicone implants and found no link between them and any illness. As a result, declared silicone implants to be safe to use once again. Silicone breast implants are an overwhelmingly popular way to augment the breasts and are the choice of most women over saline filled implants or natural augmentation, also known as a fat transfer.

Want to learn more about breast augmentation? Give Dr. Peterson a call at 785-234-9000.