It's hard to believe the first documented breast augmentation was performed more than 100 years ago in 1895. At that time, fat tissue was transplanted from the back to the breast to correct an asymmetry.
Years later, the first injectable materials were used, running the gamut from paraffin and beeswax to vegetable oil, all of which were abandoned after they proved to be leak-prone. Doctors then began to pursue fat transfer and also experiment with oddities such as sponges and glass balls. How times have changed.
The first-ever surgical procedure to involve silicone implants actually involved a dog, until she chewed her stitches and they had to be removed. Once the implants were declared harmless, real female patients became the guinea pigs. The first official surgery on a human—which transformed a B-cup into a C—took place in the 60s, the era of Barbie and Playboy. Breast augmentation has since become the second most popular form of cosmetic surgery that exists today, second only to liposuction.
These were exciting times in medicine, but there was no way anyone could have predicted how implants would propel aesthetic medicine forward in leaps and bounds. The art of breast augmentation has been elevated—not only for women who want to perfect their body proportions, but also for those who've experienced breast cancer and undergone a mastectomy. This continues to be one of the most rewarding reasons for doing the operation.
There have been many swift advances over the past few decades, particularly in the last 10 years. Among the most exciting are the Vectra 3D Imaging System and the creation of implants that are almost rupture-proof. Scarring from breast augmentation is now minimal—almost non-existent in some cases. Surgical methods have changed, allowing for barely noticeable incisions in the breast fold. Recovery times are short, with most patients resuming normal activity just a few days after surgery. And aesthetic options abound: to date, there are more than 2000 implant choices ranging in size, shape and material. Science continues to astound with new and ever-changing technology and there is no doubt we will see even more advances in breast augmentation over the next several years.