A History of Breast Augmentation

Some of the earliest attempts to surgically modify the breasts can be traced back to the 1880s, when any number of materials, such as glass, rubber, and ivory were inserted into the breasts. Fat grafting was another early method of breast augmentation that was relatively less harmful, wherein fat was harvested from other areas of the body and injected into the breasts.Unfortunately, problems with reabsorption made the technique largely ineffective. By the 1940s, paraffin, petroleum jellies, and later silicone fluid, both industrial and medical-grade, were injected directly into the breasts, mostly by unlicensed practitioners. Unsurprisingly, these methods of breast modification led to numerous complications, pulmonary embolism, disfigurement,  and even death.

Fortunately, breast augmentation procedures have been greatly improved over the course of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Modern Breast Augmentation Techniques

First-Generation Implants

“Thick shells, low rupture rate, but lead to capsular contracture.”
Estimates provided by plastic surgeons should include three components: surgical fees, non-surgical fees, and an anesthesiologist’s fee (if general anaesthesia is necessary). Examples of non-surgical fees include the costs for the operating room. Generally, the cost of the operating room is approximately $1,000. In some cases, this will depend on the length of the procedure, although many patients will opt for a “flat rate” if they are receiving liposuction in multiple areas of the body. Further fees include pre-operative laboratory test fees, charges for post-operative elastic compression garments (engineered to decrease swelling in the weeks following surgery), and prices for antibiotics and other drugs. Two other factors that may influence cost are the experience and credentials of the surgeon. It is important to note that surgeons commonly increase their fees after five years of experience.

Costs will also depend on the geographical location of the office, as cost averages can change from country to country, city to city, or regions of cities (the price for office space, which is higher in urban and metropolitan areas, can certainly have a bearing on patient costs). Costs will also change as new and more effective technologies are introduced. Clients will often find, for instance, that the use of laser-assisted/ultrasound device to aspirate fat will cost more than regular surgery.

While an extended recovery stay is usually not required for those receiving local/general anaesthesia, in cases where surgery is more extensive – for instance, when combining multiple procedures – the patient may be required to stay in the clinic overnight, which will add to the procedure’s total cost.

Patients should take a sensible approach by comparing the prices of a number of plastic surgeons to avoid overpaying. At the same time, it is important to tread carefully when considering inexpensive or discount surgeons, as this may lead to higher costs in the long-term to fix crucial errors made in the initial procedure. Typically, surgeons who offer discounted rates are doing so in response to a smaller number of clients and inexperience

Second-Generation Implants

“Seamless implants, low-cohesion silicone, reduced capsular contracture.”
By the late 1960s and early 1970s, a new “generation” of implants had been introduced. These implants were generally seamless and much thinner than the previous generation, and contained a low-cohesion silicone gel. Unfortunately, while these second-generation implants were touted as an aesthetic and functional improvement, they turned out to be much more fragile than their predecessors, and rupture rates were high, as well as fluid “bleeding” through the intact membrane. Another technological advancement of the second generation of breast implants was a polyurethane coating that greatly reduced the incidence of capsular contracture. However, fears arose around its potentially carcinogenic properties as the polyurethane disintegrated in the body, and it has since been pulled from North American markets. Some second generation implant models were also “double lumen,” and were essentially composed of a silicone implant contained within a saline implant, in an attempt to get the aesthetic benefits of silicone with an adjustable coating of “safe” saline solution. Unfortunately, in practice, the double lumen implants suffered high device failure rates.

Third-Generation Implants

“Lower Contracture, Deflation, Bleed, and Rupture Rates.”
In 1992, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) introduced a moratorium on the sale of silicone implants, because of fears that they led to a number of immune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. At this time, saline implants became the only option for women seeking breast augmentations in the United States, virtually replacing silicone gel implants. The FDA lifted its restrictions on silicone implants in 2006, after it was sufficiently demonstrated that the rates of immune diseases were not higher in women with implants than without.

Today, women are offered a choice between saline and silicone implants. The newest generation of silicone implants features a highly cohesive gel, which is semi-solid, retaining its shape in case of shell rupture and making for fewer complications related to silicone leakage. The newest generation of implants have come a long way from their predecessors in terms of medical safety and efficacy, and breast augmentation today is a relatively safe, effective, and an incredibly popular cosmetic procedure.

FDA Regulation of Silicone Breast Implants

In 1992, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) introduced a moratorium on the sale of silicone implants, because of fears that they led to a number of immune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. At this time, saline implants became the only option for women seeking breast augmentations in the United States, virtually replacing silicone gel implants. The FDA lifted its restrictions on silicone implants in 2006, after it was sufficiently demonstrated that the rates of immune diseases were not higher in women with implants than without.

Today, women are offered a choice between saline and silicone implants. The newest generation of silicone implants features a highly cohesive gel, which is semi-solid, retaining its shape in case of shell rupture and making for fewer complications related to silicone leakage. The newest generation of implants have come a long way from their predecessors in terms of medical safety and efficacy, and breast augmentation today is a relatively safe, effective, and an incredibly popular cosmetic procedure.

Related Links

Breast Augmentation

Breast Augmentation Before and After Photos

Breast Augmentation Cost

Subglandular vs. Submuscular Placement

Breast Augmentation Incision Placement

Breast Augmentation Types of Implants

Breast Augmentation Risks & Complications

Breast Augmentation Recovery

Breast Implant Removal

Breast Reduction & Lift

Combined Breast Augmentation & Breast Lift

Breast Lift

Breast Revision

Inverted Nipple Correction

Asymmetrical Breast Augmentation

Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation

Breast Augmentation History

Anaesthesia & Sedation

Choosing the Right Surgeon