The technical word for this breast enlargement procedure is augmentation mammoplasty. Popularized by television programs such as Nip/Tuck, this procedure has now gone mainstream and is now the most commonly-done cosmetic surgery performed in the U.S. (Incidentally, it’s not just for women, anymore; a fair number of men also undergo this treatment in the form of pec implants.)
The Mammoplasty Story
People are often surprised to learn that breast augmentation is far from new. However, until fairly recently, women took a substantial risk to achieve a bigger bust size. The first breast augmentation operation was performed in 1889 by a surgeon by the name of Gersuny. He injected paraffin, a form of mineral-based wax, into the patient’s breasts. (Since paraffin is a petroleum product and contains methane among other toxins, the results – as you might imagine – were not good.)
In 1895, an Austrian surgeon named Vincenz Czerny used a woman’s own excess fat to perform breast augmentation. Over the next few years, early cosmetic surgeons used a variety of bizarre and dangerous materials to give these women of the late Victorian and early Edwardian eras larger breasts:
- glass balls
- ground rubber
- beef cartilage
- plant-derived latex
In the 1920s, a more flat-chested look came into fashion as a reaction to the fuller busts preferred by the previous generation of women. The economic disaster of the 1930s and the second World War put a further damper on demand for breast augmentation, but celebrities of the 1940s such as Betty Grable, Jayne Mansfield and Rita Hayworth made a large bustline fashionable again. In the 1950s and 1960s, silicone injections became the standard method of augmentation mammoplasty, though women who had these done later developed serious complications.
Breast Augmentation Today
Modern breast augmentation or mammoplasty is now much safer, thanks to the advent of saline implants. these are simply bags filled with the same sterile saline solution used in a wide range of medical applications. The latest generation of silicon gummy bear implants, which are semi-solid, have been used successfully overseas since 1995, but have not yet been approved for use in the U.S. The other alternative is to make use of the latest silicon gel-filled implants, which are more cohesive and far less prone to complications than those manufactured prior to the 1980s. The next generation of breast implants uses cross-linked silicone, also called gummy bear implants.
Ideal Candidates for Breast Augmentation
Women who are dissatisfied with their breast size and shape are those most likely to seek augmentation mammoplasty (known as primary augmentation). However, women who have lost a breast to mastectomy due to breast cancer often undergo this breast reconstruction procedure in order to restore their bustline.
It is important to select a cosmetic surgeon who has the necessary skills and experience to perform breast augmentation correctly; a great deal of revision breast surgery is done to correct the mistakes made by other, less experienced or incompetent surgeons. Thoroughly investigate your surgeon’s background, training and qualifications before agreeing to undergo the procedure, and make certain that s/he is Board Certified.