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The History Of Breast Implants

The Early Years: 1960s and 1970s

The history of breast implants essentially begins in the early 1960s. Before this, implants were extremely dangerous, could not promise satisfactory results and were sometimes provided to patients by non-medical physicians who were not qualified to perform the surgery. Breast enhancement was experimental and involved inserting sponges or injecting the breasts with paraffin or silicone.

In 1963, however, silicone gel-filled implants were introduced (saline-filled implants followed in 1965), providing the prototype for modern breast augmentation. In the 1970s many companies began to mass produce different breast implants and the technology behind implant creation continued to evolve. In 1974 inflatable implants were created and in 1976 companies began to manufacture double lumen implants, a new variety of the medical product that had an interior chamber filled with silicone and an outer chamber filled with saline solution.

Continued Research and Improvements: The 1980s and 1990s

Plastic Surgeons became much more experienced in providing patients with implant-based breast augmentation throughout the 1970s and 1980s as more women chose to undergo cosmetic medical enhancement. This had the effect of procedures becoming more reliable and results becoming more consistent. The technology behind the implants themselves was still developing during this time as well.

The late 1980s saw the introduction of textured surface implants that were designed to reduce the possibility of patients developing scar tissue around their implants following treatment (a complication known as capsular contracture that remains common today).

In the early 1990s many women began launching complaints and lawsuits centred around health complications thought to be due to implants. This led to the FDA banning breast enhancement with silicone-filled implants in 1992. However, Plastic Surgeons were still able to treat patients with saline-filled implants.

These older silicone implants were found to leak after a certain amount of time. Studies were conducted which did not show a relationship between leaking silicone and diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, nor was there a relationship with breast cancer. What was found, however, was that the leaking gel would sit within the pocket created by the implant, would irritate the lining, and women were eventually getting capsular contracture (internal scarring) leading to breast deformity.

In 1994 a new form of implant — the “silicone cohesive gel implant” — was brought to market with the promise of preventing the leakage of silicone gel. The creation of thicker outer shells and cohesive gel (‘gummy-bear like’) appears to have solved the problem of leakage according to studies to this point.

Dr. Edelstein talks about today’s silicone and saline breast implants

In 2006 the FDA reversed its ban on silicone-filled breast implants after American manufacturers presented safety data at a 2005 advisory panel and agreed to specific terms regarding its production. Both silicone and saline implants are used in breast enhancement procedures today. Because both breast implant types are safe, one of the biggest dilemmas patients have is saline vs silicone.


Over 280,000 women got breast implants in 2012, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Current research looks to offer further improvement to existing Toronto breast implants technology. The most promising work has been conducted in the field of stem cells, researchers hoping to create new breast tissue taken from liposuctioned fat. Other work is being done that focuses on being able to stimulate breast enlargement through the manipulation of hormones and other biological and/or chemical products. Physicians and researchers hope to provide patients with even more reliable enhancement results while further reducing the risks involved with the treatment.

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Before undergoing any Plastic Surgery Canada procedure, consult an experienced and reputable Plastic Surgeon. Book your consultation at our plastic surgery clinic in Toronto by calling (416) 256-4194 or by clicking here.

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    Before undergoing any Plastic Surgery procedure, consult an experienced and reputable Plastic Surgeon.
    Book your consultation at our plastic surgery clinic in Toronto by calling (416) 256-5614 or by filling in this quick form.

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