site logo: Breast Form FAQ
Revised: Mar. 31, 2003
site logo: Breast Form FAQ
 History of breast implants
(This topic seems relevant because the development of silicone for internal breast augmentation may very well have influenced the development of silicone for external breast prostheses. Also, the perceived health risks associated with breast implants have persuaded many to choose a non-invasive solution after breast cancer. If I sound like I am trying to make the history of breast implants a cautionary one, you are correct. Although many who have had implants are satisfied, too many have paid the price for the lack of proper research by the industry into the long term effects. See

 Late 1890s
First breast augmentations are attempted with Paraffin. Many complications are reported with this method. Later reported attempts utilize ivory or glass balls and other substances.

 Late 1940s
Japanese prostitutes, apparently desiring to appear "more attractive to American GIs" (read: bigger breasts), have industrial silicone liquid injected into their breasts. In this process, the silicone can eventually migrate to other parts of the body and cause many health problems, including death. Even so, the procedure becomes increasingly popular and spreads to the United States (some reports state the procedure developed in parallel in the US in many places around this time.) Thousands have the procedure done, including actresses and others in the entertainment industry before the practice is banned.

Silicone breast implants, consisting of a silicone envelope filled with silicone gel are "tested" on a thirty-year-old mother of six at a Texas charity hospital.

 1960s-Early 1970s
Breast implants remain relatively rare because the implants often feel hard and unrealistic - due to the scar tissue around the implant hardening.

New silicone implants produced which are more "lifelike", but have a tendency to break easier. Once broken, total removal is difficult or impossible.

Polyurethane foam covering for implants becomes popular to prevent capsular contracture. The foam begins to disintegrate in the body almost immediately, making it difficult to remove and causing other complications.

Breast implants approved for use in the USA on the basis that they had been on the market prior to implementation of FDA regulations begun in this year.

Use of saline as implant filler replaces silicone gel, especially after 1992. Saline appears to suffer less capsular contracture than silicone with fewer of the health concerns.

FDA declares moratorium on silicone gel implants due to mounting health concerns (although the FDA committee could find no direct evidence that many of the reported illnesses were because of implants.)


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