Breast Surgery Through the Ages

Breast enlargements, enhancements or breast augmentations are now incredibly popular – you only have to watch The Only Way is Essex to realise how mainstream they have become. But there is more to breast surgery than just getting silicone or saline implants. Patients nowadays increasingly undergo reductions (especially with obesity growing in the UK) as oversized breasts can cause back aches. Furthermore surgeons are increasingly called on to perform breast reconstructions given the tragic prevalence of cancer in modern society. One thing all these procedures have in common is how far they have come over the last 50 years.


In 1962 the first silicone breast implants were created by two doctors from Texas. A woman named Timmie Jean Lindsey became the first to have a boob job and was around to tell that tale at the 50th anniversary of implants.


By the 70s, breast implants were being produced on a much larger scale. Although other options were tried, silicone implants led the way in popularity because they were felt like real flesh. At the end of the decade the British Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons met for the first time.


The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) was formed in 1982. One of their main challenges was addressing the safety of implants due to concerns that silicone leakage could cause health problems.


While the safety of silicone implants was being tested, the FDA announced that they should not be used until further investigations had been carried out. By 1992, silicone implants were approved for reconstruction work, while approval for limited augmentation work with silicone implants was given in 1998. By the end of the decade over 100,000 breast enlargements had been carried out in America alone.

The Noughties

In the ‘Noughties’ breast enhancement became the most popular form of cosmetic surgery, increasing by 10% in the UK with 9,418 procedures carried out according to the BAAPS annual audit. NHS figures for 2008 show that 20% of women opted for immediate reconstruction after a mastectomy for breast cancer.


Today there are all a huge amount of breast surgery options such as breast uplifts, while the BBC recently noted an increase in male breast reductions to tackle gynaecomastia.

Around 25,000 women every year have breast implants. Prices vary from provider to provider however the NHS will rarely fund treatments without health reasons. But whether for cosmetic or health reasons, breast surgery is on the rise in the UK. And as demand increases so does the level of service offered with surgeons showing a great commitment to safe and durable implants and the needs of the patient.