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A Short History of Breast Implants

History of Breast ImplantsThe first modern, silicone breast implant was placed 50 years ago, in 1962. Since then it has become part of the American culture. Most people have probably never given much thought about how the breast implant got its start, though. The BBC recently published an article, to honor the half-century anniversary of the implant, “A Brief History of Breast Enlargements”, and Houston’s top plastic surgery center, Vitenas Cosmetic Surgery, would like to share some of the highlights with you.

  • 1890s:  Paraffin was injected into the breasts but soon it was found to leak into other parts of the body.
  • Through the years, non-surgical solutions have been tried:  vacuum pumps, suction devices, a multitude of lotions and potions, and padded or inflatable bras.
  • 1920s & 1930s:  Doctors began moving fat from other parts of the body to the breast.
  • 1940s:  Japanese would inject non-medical grade silicone into the breasts of prostitutes, hoping to attract U.S. Servicemen. The use of silicone is considered crucial to the future of implants.  However, the earliest uses of silicone often led to serious health issues.
  • During the 1950s, girls with a curvy silhouette took center stage, such as Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell.  “Falsies” became popular with the ladies – but women wanted more and began to find the idea of surgical breast augmentation an enticing option.
  • 1950s:  Polyurethane, cartilage, sponges, wood and even glass balls, were all implanted into the breast but the risk of infection was high.
  • 1962:  History is made; a silicone envelope filled with silicone gel becomes the first silicone implant, safely placed by Dr. Frank Gerow& Dr. Thomas Cronin in Houston, TX.

That first silicone implant was performed at Jefferson Davis Hospital, in Houston.  Mrs. Timmie Jean Lindsey, a mother of six, was the woman chosen for the surgery. “I thought they came out just perfect… I was not wise enough to realize the magnitude of it, (but) it’s kind of awesome to know that I was first,” says Lindsey, now aged 80. Little could this brave woman imagine, she was changing the way women would view breast augmentation for years to come.