Silastic Breast Implants Over the Years

While breast enhancement attempts reach as far back as the 1940s, Silicone breast implant surgery began in the 1960s, with two Texas doctors and a great idea.

  • The first implantation surgery was performed in 1962 on Timmie Jean Lindsey, a woman of limited means who was originally seeking a tattoo removal on her breasts
  • Dr. Thomas Cronin, a prominent Houston Plastic Surgeon and former Chief of the Plastic Surgery Department of Baylor College of Medicine, paired up with Senior Resident in training Dr. Frank Gerow to create the first silicone breast implants.
  • While considered usable and effective, the implants were made with thicker silicone rubber shells, considered by today's standards antique and crude.
  • Confident in their invention, Drs. Cronin and Gerow were quick to tell the medical profession, public and FDA that the implants were inert, lasting and without perceived complication.

In the 1970s…

  • Breast implants were no longer considered free from risk and complication.
  • Because our body’s natural defense toward foreign objects is to isolate them, scar tissue began surrounding implants to separate the unfamiliar implant from the body.  
  • This response, known as capsular contracture, was not only painful, but also caused breasts to feel hard and unnatural.
  • As advised, many patients elected to undergo revision or removal surgeries

By the 1980s…

  • Further evidence revealed breast implants held no lifetime guarantee.
  • Over time the implants began to wear out, and sometimes even rupture, causing the silicon gel contents to leak.
Implants became increasingly unpopular in the 1990s.
  • Implants were accused of causing every connective tissue disease in women, acquiring the nickname, "silicone poisoning.”
  • In January of 1992, the Federal Drug Administration called for a voluntary moratorium on the distribution and implantation of silicone breast implants.

Things began to look up in the 21st century.

  • Studies failed to demonstrate that silicone breast implants could cause breast cancer, reproductive problems or connective tissue diseases.
  • The FDA permitted silicone breast implants to return to the market in November of 2006.

Today…

  • There are currently three silicone breast implant manufacturers in the United States. They include Mentor, Allergan and, in 2011, Sentra.
  • Liposuction was the most popular cosmetic procedure until 2008 when breast implants were found to be the most performed. It remained most requested until 2011 when liposuction rose in popularity once again.
  • Timmie Jean Lindsey received full C implants, however, the D cup is currently the most requested size.
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