Known as breast augmentation, breast enlargement, mammoplasty enlargement, augmentation mammoplasty or boob job, a breast implant is a prosthesis used to enlarge the size of a woman's breasts. It's done for cosmetic reasons; to reconstruct the breast (e.g. after a mastectomy; or to correct genetic deformities), or as part of male-to-female sex reassignment surgery.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, breast augmentation is the most commonly performed cosmetic surgical procedure in the US. In 2006, 329,000 breast augmentation procedures were performed in the US.
There are two primary types of breast implants: saline-filled and silicone-gel-filled implants. Saline implants have a silicone elastomer shell filled with sterile saline liquid. Silicone gel implants have a silicone shell filled with a viscous silicone gel.
The earliest known implant was attempted by Austrian-German surgeon Vincenz Czerny, using a woman's own adipose tissue (from a benign growth, on her back).
Csech surgeon Robert Gersuny tried paraffin injections in 1889, with disastrous results. Subsequently, in the early to mid-1900s, a number of other substances were tried, including ivory, glass balls, ground rubber, ox cartilage, Terylene wool, gutta-percha, Dicora, polyethylene chips, polyvinyl alcohol-formaldehyde polymer sponge (Ivalon), Ivalon in a polyethylene sac, polyether foam sponge, polyethylene tape or strips wound into a ball, polyurethane foam sponge, silastic rubber, and teflon-silicone prostheses.
In recent history, various creams and medications have been used in attempts to increase bust size. Doctors in 1945 and 1950 performed a flap-based augmentation by rotating the patient's chest wall tissue into the breast to add volume.
Various synthetics were used throughout the 1950s and 1960s, including silicone injections, which an estimated 50,000 women received.
Development of silicone granulomas (inflamed tumors) and hardening of the breasts were in some cases so severe that women needed to have mastectomies for treatment. Women sometimes seek medical treatment for complications up to 30 years after receiving this type of injection.