Breast Implants: A Brief History

May 30, 2012
breast implants beverly hills

Breast implants in Los Angeles and across the nation have been popular for years, but they have undergone many transformations. The results are improvements in safety, quality and appearance that my female patients love. One particularly exciting new advancement is the “gummy bear” implant, a silicone-gel implant with a texture similar to that of gummy bear candies. It provides an even more natural look and feel than earlier silicone implants.

Here’s a brief history of just how far breast implants have advanced in terms of safety and quality:

  • In 1961, researchers created the first silicone breast implants at Dow Corning. These first-generation implants were much more likely to leak than the ones we offer today.
  • In 1968, the first saline implants were created. The drawback to these early versions was their fragile casings, which could result in deflation. Also, a “sloshing” noise could sometimes be heard.
  • Silicone implants have gradually gone through a series of improvements, with stronger cover materials and denser, more cohesive gel fillers. Complication rates decreased dramatically, while the quality and appearance of the implants soared.
  • Despite these improvements, in 1992, the FDA banned silicone implants for everyone except reconstruction and revision patients. As a result, saline implants were used for more than 90% of surgeries.
  • In 2006, the FDA gave its approval to silicone implants for women age 22 and older. Women 18 and older can have saline implants.
  • In 2012, Sientra® gummy bear breast implants are approved. Additional crosslinking between the silicone molecules allows these implants to retain their shape, especially in the vertical position.

Silicone implants have continued to advance, with the latest generation called “gummy bear” implants. The gel material is both firm and soft, just like gummy bear candy. It can be pushed, pulled and even cut without dramatically changing its shape. Initial studies show that these new implants are even more effective and safer than earlier ones.

I take pride in the fact that my partner, Dr. Michelle Spring, and I are among a small group of surgeons chosen to use these new silicone breast implants in Los Angeles as part of a clinical study. I look forward to even more innovations in our ongoing effort to provide the best for our patients.