Breast augmentation is the most performed plastic surgery procedure on the planet, having grown rapidly in popularity since its introduction more than 55 years ago.
The very first breast implant operation was carried out in 1962 - on a dog. The procedure was pioneered by three ambitious surgeons Thomas Biggs, Thomas Cronin and Frank Gerow in Houston, Texas (USA).
Gerow had the idea for the implants after handling a bag of warm blood and being struck by how much it felt like a breast. The surgeons joined forces with the Dow Corning Corporation, the silicone company, to create the first ever, space-age breast implant.
The experiment to place the silicone implants in a dog - named Esmeralda - was deemed a success. The implants remained under the skin for a couple of weeks without adverse effects, before the dog started to chew at her stitches and they had to be removed.
The first human to receive breast implants
Later that same year, 29-year-old mother-of-six Timmie Jean Lindsey agreed to be the first person to receive the new breast implants. She had visited a charity hospital to see about having some tattoos removed from her breasts but was asked if she’d volunteer for the first-of-its-kind surgery. Timmie Jean Lindsey is still alive today and still has the original breast implants.
The medical team began looking for other women to try out the implants and, the following year, presented the work to the International Society of Plastic Surgeons. The revolutionary procedure set the plastic surgery world on fire.
Big breasts become big news
Breast augmentation surgery first took off in Houston, where 17 or 18 were being carried out per day. The trend soon spread to the rest of America, where the figure of breast implant operations eventually rose to over 300,000 annually.
The desire for bigger breasts was being driven by curvy cultural icons like Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, and even Barbie. Meanwhile, Playboy magazine was also taking off, followed by the launch of the Hooters restaurant chain, all of which led to a greater focus on women’s assets.
Breast implants become safer
The early silicone implant, although massively successful, wasn’t without its problems. Concerns over safety led the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1992 to limit the availability of silicone breast implants until more clinical trials had taken place.
During that time, surgeons turned to saline implants, which could be filled either before insertion or after. These provided a good alternative, since saline solution was known to be harmless should it leak into the body.
However, in 2007, following exhaustive studies, the FDA declared silicone-gel breast implants safe. They licensed two companies to manufacture them, under tight new regulations that included making the outer shell of the implant thicker to reduce the likelihood of rupture.
There have been many advances over the decades, including a move to so-called “gummy bear” implants, made from a semi-solid, silicone-based cohesive gel. Meanwhile, the range available has also grown massively. In the beginning, there were only four sizes, now there are more than 450 choices.
Did you know, Ocean Clinic Marbella specialises in breast surgery? If you’re interested to learn more about this procedure make an appointment for a consultation with one of our surgeons.