The History of Breast Augmentation
By Constance M. Barone, M.D. on September 20, 2016
The quest to achieve larger breasts has a long history. As far back as 1890, doctors tried injecting paraffin into the breasts, doctors in the 1920s and 1930s tried transferring fat from other parts of the body into the breasts, and in the 1950s a variety of materials were surgically placed into the breasts, including sponges, wool, and ivory balls. Fortunately, breast augmentation has come a long way, providing women with a safer way to get shapelier, natural looking and feeling breasts. Learn more about the history of breast augmentation in this overview from San Antonio, TX plastic surgeon Dr. Constance Barone and schedule a consultation to find out if breast augmentation is right for you.
Early Breast Augmentation
The early stages of breast augmentation begin with Austrian doctor Robert Gersuny. In 1890, Dr. Gersuny injected paraffin, a type of wax, directly into the chests to increase their size. At first, the results were good, but eventually the breasts would become hard and lumpy and infection rates were extremely high. By the 1920s, paraffin injections were no longer performed and the switch was made to transplanting fat from the buttocks or abdomen to the breasts. Fat transplantation didn't provide lasting results because the body often reabsorbed the transferred fatty tissue or caused the breasts to become asymmetrical.
Silicone injections were used by Japanese prostitutes in the 1940s while trying to attract the attention of American soldiers fighting in World War II. The silicone injections seemed to work and were soon offered in the United States. However, infection, including gangrene, and skin discoloration soon caused silicone injections to lose favor.
By the 1950s, well-endowed starlets, like Marilyn Monroe and Jane Mansfield, were popular, and many women desired a larger bust line. Bra-stuffing with “falsies” became popular, but many women wanted something more permanent. Surgeons in the 1950s began experimenting with different types of materials, including wool, ox cartilage, and ivory balls, to implant within the breasts. One of the most popular was the polyvinyl sponge. Unfortunately, the polyvinyl sponge would often shrink and harden shortly after surgery and led to high infection rates.
The First Silicone Implant
Breast augmentation as we know it didn't occur until the 1960s. After squeezing a bag of blood, surgeon Frank Gerow realized it felt like natural breast tissue, which led to the creation of the first silicone implant. Dr. Gerow then placed the protype implant in a dog, named Esmeralda, and removed it after a couple of weeks. Dr. Gerow and fellow surgeon Frank Cronin implanted silicone breast implants into a woman in the spring of 1962; this is known as the first silicone implant breast augmentation procedure.
Modern Breast Augmentation
Since Dr. Gerow and Dr. Cronin's success with silicone implants, breast augmentation has advanced, making it safer than ever before with better, more natural looking and feeling results. Breast augmentation is now highly customizable and there are multiple implant options, including saline and silicone implants, teardrop and round shaped implants, as well as different incision types and ways to place implants within the breast tissue.
Schedule a Consultation
For more information about breast augmentation, or to find out if it's right for you, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Barone.
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“Rating our experience with a perfect score is not enough. The care and attention we received from Dr. Barone and her team was as close to perfection as one can ask for.” Jacqueline W.