The history of breast implants has undergone an extensive and intriguing evolution.
1890s:The earliest recorded cases of this surgery were written to have gone disastrously wrong. The first successful breast implant is credited to Vincenz Czerny, a doctor who used excess tissue from a woman’s own body to transplant after he removed a tumour from her breast.
1920s: Up until then, paraffin wax injections were commonly used to enlarge breasts. In this decade, though, the use of such material was banned due to the rising number of post-surgical complications.
1940s:The informal use of early silicone substances became popular during this decade, and the procedure became adopted all over the world.
1950s: Polyether foam sponge implants were used in the United States. In the late fifties, the psychological motivators of women who were opting for surgery came into question; research became tailored not only to discovering the best methods of surgery, but also the reasons why so many women were asking for breast implants.
1960s: This decade saw silicone refined into the early versions of the “silicone implant” that we are familiar with. The first surgeries had mixed results, some positive and but most negative. As the years went by, doctors became more creative about achieving a more natural and bouncy looking breast. They came up with a blow-up implant filled with a saline solution that jiggled more than silicone substitutes.
1970s: This decade was about improving the products that were on the market. Obvious problems became apparent – things like inflatable implants deflating or realistic silicone implants bursting and being difficult to fix – so those kinks were ironed out. All kinds of crazy solutions were suggested (like foam coverings for implants) but most had disastrous results. Techniques for non-implant breast augmentation were looked at around this time too, catering for women who wanted liposuction to reduce their breast size.
1980s: “Healthier” alternatives, like soybean oil implants, were created. They became popular in some regions but overall didn’t catch on like silicone implants had already done.
1990s: The bodies governing what products could be used for surgeries became more stringent, and began taking more preventative measures to reduce post-surgical complications.
2000s: Composite filler implants, like the soybean oil ones, were banned worldwide due to serious issues seen in the patients who had the implants over the previous decades. Fat grafting and other non-implant surgical procedures were explored in comprehensive research.
2010s: And here we are! The future of breast implants seems to lie not only with increasingly safer materials, but also for the shape and application of implants. Research suggests that “shaped” implants – not just the typical round ones – could be beneficial for certain breast sizes.