A Brief History of Breast Augmentation


Larger breasts have long been the desire of many a woman. Here we discover the journey from the historical and somewhat absurd beginnings of breast augmentation to today’s sophisticated solutions.

The Beginning of Breast Enlargements

The pursuit of breast enlargements was recorded to have started in the late 1800’s, when women injected their breasts with paraffin. Thankfully, this was promptly abandoned as they found it leaked into other parts of their bodies.

Already in the 1920’s & 30’s doctors were experimenting with removing fat from other parts of the body and transplanting it to the breast for enlargements, but this was unsuccessful at this stage.

The 1950’s saw a resurgence of interest in breast enlargements with surgeons trying sponges, glass balls, cartilage, polyurethane and even wood as implants but none of these, understandably, worked.

In Japan, prostitutes started injecting their breasts with silicone but with disastrous effect as gangrene, known as ‘silicone rot’ developed around the area that had been injected.

First Silicone Implants Developed

Then in the 60’s, two surgeons were working together when they came up with the idea of silicone implants. One of the surgeons, Frank Gerow, was holding a plastic blood bag in his hand and squeezed it only to remark how similar it felt to a woman’s breast. 

The idea was born from that moment and they set to work to operate and insert a prototype in Esmeralda, a dog, initially. This operation was a success and the next step was to start trying the same method on women.

This first silicone implant was called the Cronin-Gerow implant after the two surgeons who had initially thought of & developed the implant, and the operation on the first woman was a great success – She still has the implants in her body today, over 50 years later.

Where We Are Today

Breast augmentation has come a long way since then, with better technology such as rupture-proof implants and 3D imaging and also a better understanding of what’s possible, resulting in over 450 specific sizes.

We take breast augmentation, whether cosmetic or reconstructive in nature, very seriously at The Breast Expert. We are a group of senior nationally and internationally renowned UK-trained specialist consultant breast surgeons who want to improve the quality of treatment and service given to patients in the UK.

If you have any questions about breast augmentation, call us for a free consultation and we’d be more than happy to answer your questions.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Contact the Breast Expert