Cosmetic Surgery Articles

The History behind Breast Enlargement

The History behind Breast Enlargement

The History behind Breast Enlargement

Perhaps no part of the female anatomy holds such enduring cultural fascination than the breasts. Apart from their obvious life-giving function for women who breastfeed their children, breasts have also played key roles in the fields of politics, sexuality, and fashion. While modern women are used to surgical breast augmentation becoming increasingly popular and socially acceptable, the history of breast enlargement includes many creative and surprising examples of techniques use to add volume to the bust line.


As early as the 1890s, surgeons attempted to inject paraffin into breasts to add additional volume. This method was quickly abandoned after it was discovered that the paraffin rapidly spread from the breasts to other body parts without adding significant lasting results.

A series of dubious-looking vacuum pump devices and suction cups passed in and out of fashion in the 19th and 20th centuries before advances in medical techniques enabled doctors to perform the first fat transfers beginning in the 1920s. Fat transplants proved unreliable due to inadequate medical equipment and technology at the time, but this technique has been developed and improved since then, and is now being used more frequently for subtle, moderate breast enhancement and other cosmetic procedures.

Before the development of the modern breast implant, a variety of different devices of various substances were used to increase cup size, including wooden spheres and glass. Believe it or not, the 1950s saw many experimental implants of this nature. Besides the obvious weight issue, these materials are not safe for use in the human body, and definitely didn’t feel like breast tissue. Before the use of saline or silicone implants, doctors even experimented with implants composed of polyurethane material and sponge.

The first successful silicone breast implant surgery took place in 1962. Performed by surgeons in Houston, Texas, the first patient to receive silicone breast implants went up one full cup size to C from B. The rest is history.


Today, cosmetic surgeons use dramatically improved silicone and saline breast implants in a variety of shapes and profiles to create the perfectly enhanced breast for nearly any woman’s taste. Advances in incision and suture practices mean scarring is minimal. Breast enlargement is a hugely popular procedure in the field of cosmetic surgery, consistently ranking among the top procedures performed on women.

Silicone implants still far outpace saline implants in popularity. Improvements in implant materials have made today’s implants unbelievably natural-looking and feeling. The Allergan 410 form-stable implant (affectionately known as the “Gummy Bear Implant”) is the most recent advance in implant technology, and is named for its texture, similar to the firm-yet-yielding gummy candy.


What does the future of breast implants look like? It’s unlikely that the popularity of breast enlargement will decrease anytime soon, although surgeons are seeing is a rising trend toward smaller, less dramatic-looking implants. There will likely be a continued shift toward subtle, lower-profile implants as popular media campaigns for more realistic portrayals of female continue gaining momentum.

Innovations like the Ideal Implant, a saline implant with improved design that minimizes the characteristic appearance of rippling or wrinkling that sometimes appears, may make saline a more popular implant option again in the future. While the short term will undoubtedly see the continued popularity of breast implants, some scientists predict that stem cells may hold the key to implant-less breast enlargement before too long. The hope is that stem cells could be used to regrow breast tissue lost due to breast cancer or even add breast tissue for cosmetic purposes, but for now these ideas remain purely theoretical.

The History behind Breast Enlargement and Breast Implants
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The History behind Breast Enlargement and Breast Implants
Tampa cosmetic surgeon Dr. Joseph Castellano examines the history of breast implants and what the future may hold for breast augmentation.
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Castellano Cosmetic Surgery Center in Tampa
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