As is true with any cosmetic surgery procedure, breast implants are constantly evolving. When they were first introduced in the late 19th century, they were filled with paraffin wax. However, lumps would form in the breasts and there was a high risk of infection. Therefore, they quickly fell out of favor.
Soon after, around the turn of the 20th century, surgeons tried filling their breast implants with substances like ivory, glass balls, ground rubber, and ox cartilage. It is not surprising these types of implants did not last long. Even in the early 20th century, patients wanted their enhanced breasts to be natural in both look and feel. Glass balls and ivory were never going to create a “natural” breast.
Therefore, in the 1940s, cosmetic surgeons thought using fat from other parts of the body would create the natural looking breast implant that their patients were craving. Considering the success of liposuction today, we can understand how they might have deemed this to be possible. However, what ended up happening is that the body reabsorbed the fat, causing the implants to be misshapen. Back to the drawing board they went.
About 20 years passed, and then one of the biggest developments in breast augmentation history occurred: silicone breast implants were developed. In 1962, the first breast augmentation procedure using a silicone implant was performed. Now, despite the popularity of silicone breast implants today, it was not an entirely smooth ride for this type of implant. In the 1980s, women started claiming that they were suffering illnesses due to these implants, and the FDA expressed their disapproval as well. Thus, the implants fell out of favor, and it was not until 2006 that FDA approved the use of silicone breast implants in breast augmentation surgery.
While silicone implants struggled to gain hold, saline breast implants took advantage. Named because they were filled with saline solution, these implants were developed in 1964 and are still in use today. However, they have two major problems. One, they are not as natural looking as implants made from silicone. Two, the salt water in the saline solution can leak into the body’s surrounding tissue. That is why the vast majority of breast augmentation surgeries today do not use saline implants.
Instead, a new form of silicone breast implant is starting to take hold: “gummy bear implants.” These breast implants were approved by the FDA in March 2012, and we see them fast becoming the most requested type of implant by breast augmentation patients. Not only are they the most natural looking and feeling breast implant available, but they also have a lower rupture rate than other forms of breast implants.