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History and development of breast implants

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Breast implants

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If you would like to know about the history of breast implants, and the development of breast implants, the following information will interest you.


Breast implants have been on the market since the early 1960s.  The first silicone breast implants were developed by two plastic surgeons in Texas, in conjunction with the Dow Corning Corporation, and the first woman to have silicone breast implants was in 1962.  Originally, silicone breast implants were filled with silicone gel and had very thick shells but over the years implants have evolved and the thick shell has been replaced with a thinner shell and a new type of filler; the saline breast implant (using salt water as a filler) has been introduced. 


Silicone controversy

Although the silicone breast implant remains the more natural option for breast implants because it looks and feels more like a real breast, it has been the subject of much controversy.  In 1992 after widespread availability of silicone gel-filled breast implants, the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) decided that the silicone breast implant should be removed from the US market because its safety had not been fully established.  Since then, silicone gel-filled implants have been available only to breast reconstruction patients, patients undergoing breast revision surgery or women enrolled in clinical trials. 

Breast implants guide

However, in the UK there are no restrictions on the sale or use of CE-marked silicone gel-filled breast implants following various investigations undertaken by independent groups, on behalf of the Department of Health.  The Independent Review Group's (IRG) report in 1998 on the health risks associated with the silicone breast implant and the quality of pre-operative patient information concluded that silicone breast implants posed no real risk to women and are not associated with any greater health risk than other surgical implants, such as the saline breast implant (see our section on possible risks and side effects).

Guide index

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