In 1895, surgeon Vincenz Czerny was responsible for the earliest breast implant emplacement. He used the patient’s loose connective tissue from a benign lumbar lipoma, to repair the asymmetry of the breast where he had removed the tumor.
Morton I. Berson, in 1945, and Jacques Maliniac, in 1950, each performed flap-based breast augmentations by rotating the patient’s chest wall tissue into the breast to increase its volume.
In the 1950’s, polyurethane, cartilage, wood and even glass balls, were all tried as breast implants. In addition, doctors started inserting sponge implants into women’s breasts. The sponge technique worked well at first, but did not last – the sponges soon shrank, and became “hard as baseballs” says Biggs.
In 1961, the American plastic surgeons Thomas Cronin and Frank Gerow, and the Dow Corning Corporation, developed the first silicone breast prosthesis, filled with silicone gel. “Frank Gerow squeezed a plastic blood bag and remarked how much it felt like a woman’s breast,” says Teresa Riordan, author of Inventing Beauty: A History of the Innovations that have Made Us Beautiful.”And he had this ‘Aha!’ moment, where he first conceived of the silicone breast implant.”
1st Silicone Breast Implant
It was spring 1962 when Timmie Jean Lindsey, a mother-of-six lay down on the operating table at Jefferson Davis hospital in Houston, Texas. Over the next two hours, she went from a B to a C cup, in an operation that made history. Lindsey went to the hospital that day to get a tattoo removed from her breasts, and it was then that doctors asked if she would consider volunteering for this first-of-its-kind operation. Fifty years later Timmie Jean Lindsey remains delighted with the results, though there is no stopping the passing of time, she says. She is still very happy with the little piece of history she carries inside her body. “It’s kind of awesome to know that I was first,” she says.
In 1964, the French company Laboratoires Arion developed and manufactured the saline breast implant, filled with saline solution, and then introduced for use as a medical device in 1964. The significance began to hit home when Cronin presented the work at the International Society of Plastic Surgeons in Washington DC in 1963. “The plastic surgery world was absolutely set on fire with enthusiasm,” says Biggs. It was the decade in which Playboy magazine and Barbie launched.
In the early days, they only had four choices or sizes – large, medium, small and petite. Now we have over 450 choices! It is 54 years since the first breast enlargement using silicone implants. Today breast augmentation rates as one of the most popular form of cosmetic surgery worldwide, undergone by 1,348,197 women in 2014.
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