The history of breast augmentation began with a variety of failed techniques until the development of the silicone breast implant. Doctors began injecting paraffin into women’s chests in the 1890s, but their breasts soon grew hard, lumpy, and infected. Fat transplants from the buttocks and abdomen were popular in the 1920s, but breast asymmetry and scars from the site of the harvested fat often resulted. Synthetic and polyvinyl sponges were used for breast augmentation in the 1950s until they shrank and hardened. In the late 1950s, a wide variety of substances, including ivory balls, wool, and ox cartilage, were implanted with failed results. It wasn’t until the 1960s that a random observation at a blood bank led to the development of silicone breast implants.
Dr. Frank Gerow of Texas got the idea for a new type of breast implant when he was holding a bag of warm blood and noticed that it felt similar to a breast. Dr. Thomas Cronin led the team to develop the first silicone implants when he learned that silicone had a very low rate of bodily reaction and could be made in a variety of consistencies. He realized that solid silicone could be used to create a bag and semi-liquid silicone could be put inside the bag so that it would feel similar to a natural breast. From there, Dr. Cronin and Dr. Gerow worked together to develop the silicone breast implant in 1960. The Dow Corning Company manufactured Cronin and Gerow’s first silicone implant, a silicone sac filled with viscous gel.
Once the product was fabricated, it was implanted in a dog named Esmeralda with no complications before Timmie Jean Lindsey was offered the procedure. Lindsey had simply gone in for tattoo removal when the doctors proposed that she undergo breast augmentation with their new implants. After being convinced to go through with it, the implants were inserted into Lindsey’s breasts, where they still remain today after 51 years. After safety concerns arose in the 1980s, the implant was slightly redesigned and improved upon. Today, breast augmentation is one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures in the world.
If you are interested in any breast enhancement procedure, please contact the practice of Dr. John L. Roussalis by calling (307) 234-4585 or filling out our online contact form. Dr. Roussalis is a board certified plastic surgeon whose goal is to provide his patients with a revitalized appearance that will give them the confidence they deserve.