The History of Breast Implants

Published on January 7, 2010 by

What do soy oil, glass balls, string, ivory, and wool have in common? In the past, they have ALL been used as breast implant materials. Breast Augmentation surgery was first done in the late 19th century using adipose tissue (body fat) taken from the patient’s back. As with all surgical procedures, the procedure itself, surgical instruments used and the medical supplies continue to evolve and advance, and breast implants have changed many times in the past 115 years.

The “Gummy Bear” or silicone implant is the current state of the art in breast implant material. It hasn’t been a straight or easy path for the silicone implant. It was first introduced in 1961 by two Houston plastic surgeons, but by 1992 the United States government put a moratorium on the silicone implant. There are considered to be 5 major evolutions in the silicone-based implant, with the current “Gummy Bear” representing the 5th generation of implants. However, it was not this type of implant that was banned by the moratorium. The implant on the market at the time of the moratorium was a much less sophisticated implant and the second generation in the implant’s development.

The moratorium on silicone implants was lifted in November 2006 after 14 years of testing, lawsuits, and political wrangling. The medical testing that lead to putting the silicone implant on life support has since been over-turned, and numerous studies have shown that there is no evidence of causal link to systemic diseases such as arthritis or fibromyalgia. The current silicone implant is very gel like with little risk of leakage and provides a natural look and feel while increasing the size, volume, and profile of the breast.

Sadly, during the moratorium, breast augmentation patients had no significant choice in implant type and the saline implant was the only option for most patients. While the saline implant is more likely to cause wrinkling and rippling, it is still considered to be a very safe implant and it does offer patients a choice. How does a patient determine which implant is the best for them to use?

Find an experienced board certified plastic surgeon
Learn about the implant options available
Determine what you want your results to be

You and your plastic surgeon make up a team, and it’s important that there be give and take on both sides. Your surgeon should really hear what it is you’re saying, and you should take the time to really listen to your surgeon’s recommendations and opinions. Once you’ve chosen the best possible surgeon, work together to achieve the outcome you’ve probably dreamed of having for a very long time!

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    Dr. Steve Byrd

    Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon

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    9101 N Central Expy #560
    Dallas, TX 75231



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