Silicone today, fat tomorrow; breast augmentation rocks on

May 8, 2012

Fiftieth anniversary of silicone breast implants
Fiftieth anniversary of silicone breast implants

Silicone breast implants, invented in 1962, soldier on. Though they provide a smooth profile, they’ve had a bumpy path. The sixties bought a clamor for them. Then, because of complications, the nineties bought a clamor against them. Of these silicone devices, Wmag.com, May 2012, reports, “Now they are back: bigger, safer, and more popular than ever.” In fact, the FDA recently approved a new silicone breast implant manufactured by Sientra.

The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reports that last year 316,848 breast augmentations were performed in the United States. Call it a fashion choice or a definer of femininity, the enhanced bosom doesn’t seem to be going away. So it makes perfect sense for Wmag.com to ask the question, “How did so many women become so interested in having a bigger bosom than nature intended?”

Victoria Pitts-Taylor, for one, director of the Center for the Study of Women and Society at the City University of New York, blames it on the media and “women feeling they must compete with what is essentially a pornographic aesthetic.”

There was a time when large breasts were, for the most part, considered a burden. If you did want to enhance your breast size, there was a fear about implant materials. In fact, in the early 20th century, Wmag.com reports that surgeons tried fillers like glass and ivory balls, peanut oil, goat’s milk ox cartilage, honey and paraffin. With the plastics revolution, Teflon, nylon and Plexiglas were thrown into the mix.

The breast really came into its own with the Hollywood bombshells. Blondes, like Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield, flooded the newsstands and their big-busted sisters, like Rita Hayworth and Jane Russell, came close on their heels. Wmag.com reports that in 1964, Carol Doda, who pioneered topless go-go dancing, underwent dozens of silicone injections and this technique became de rigeur on the burlesque circuit. However, injected as such, silicone tended to migrate, bunch up or turn rock solid.

After tremendous advances in surgical breast augmentation techniques, resulting in fewer infections and a significant reduction in hardening, the question is, “Will silicone breast implants be around to celebrate their 100th birthday?” Wmag.com reports, “Probably not.” Now doctors are working with fat cells that can be transplanted into breasts. A former plastic surgeon who was a resident during the first 1962 silicone breast augmentation says, “The future is fat.” Whether its paraffin, silicone, saline, or your own fat, it doesn’t look like breast augmentation is going out of style.


The mission of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) includes medical education, public education and patient advocacy. Plastic Surgery News Briefs are summaries of current stories found through various news and magazine outlets that relate to or mention plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. The views expressed in these news articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASAPS, but are merely published as an educational service to our members and the general public. For additional information on these subjects and other plastic surgery related topics, please go to www.surgery.org

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About ASAPS
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world’s leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body.  ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; active members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and non-surgical aesthetic procedures. International active members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.

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