Breast Implant

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Breast augmentation and reconstructive surgery can trace its history back to World War II era Japan where prostitutes underwent crude procedures to enlarge their breasts in hopes of attracting U.S. servicemen. In the 1960s two Texas plastic surgeons, Frank Gerow and Thomas Cronin, developed the first silicone breast implant. Timmie Jean Lindsey was the first woman to receive the device in 1962.

Today, breast augmentation surgery is wildly popular. In the United States and Canada the use of saline implants is much more widespread than silicone. However, silicone is still the primary implant in Europe. The implant is placed either above or below the pectoral muscle, depending on the surgeon and the patient’s preference.

Concern over the safety of implants, especially the silicone variety, reached a frenzy in the late 1980s and early 1990s. High profile lawsuits alleged that Dow Corning and other silicone implant manufacturers knew that their products caused cancer and autoimmune diseases such as lupus. The Food & Drug Administration halted the use of silicone implants except in limited cases, and today saline is the implant of choice.

In the late 1990s researchers began to question whether silicone implants really increased the risk of disease. To date, most studies have failed to demonstrate a connection between silicone implants and cancer or autoimmune diseases. However, a Food & Drug Administration report released in April 2001 renewed concerns about the safety of silicone breast implants. The report, while not conclusive, found a correlation between silicone breast implants and a painful connective tissue disorder known as fibromyalgia.