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Breast Augmentation

6 Decades of Breast Augmentation: A History

Breast Augmentation

Breast augmentation has come along way since its earliest days, both in terms of technique and results. A brief study of where we’ve been brings greater appreciation of where we are today.


In the 1950s, doctors tried different kinds of inserts like polyurethane, cartilage and sponges to enlarge breasts. Because the procedure was in its unregulated youth, non-surgical solutions like vacuum pumps and inflatable bras emerged to serve as safer alternatives.


Thomas Cronin and Frank Gerow developed the first silicone breast implants, and in 1962, Timmie Jean Lindsey became the first woman to receive them. This breakthrough was closely followed by the introduction of saline implants in 1964.


In 1976, the FDA enacted the Medical Devices Amendment, which gave it authority to review the safety of new medical devices, including breast implants. This led to the second generation of silicone and saline implants.


In 1982, the FDA proposed putting implants into a Class III category. This classification, which went into effect in 1988, meant that manufacturers had to prove implant safety by providing extensive scientific data for FDA evaluation.


In response to media sensationalism surrounding silicone implants, manufacturers voluntarily withdrew them from the market in the early 90s. In 1999, an independent committee of scientists released a 400-page report on the safety of silicone implants. In the meantime, women turned to saline implants for their breast augmentations.


  • A new generation of silicone implants was introduced to the market in 2006, and today’s breast implants deliver better results than ever before. Increasingly sophisticated surgical techniques combined with numerous aesthetic options and new advances in breast implants themselves—such as FDA approval of “gummy bear” implant styles in 2013—have made breast augmentation the most popular plastic surgery procedure in the world.
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October 21, 2015
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