A Brief History of Breast Augmentation

An estimated 5,083,717 American women have breast implants, however it wasn’t always such a safe and popular procedure. To follow is a brief history of breast augmentation, highlighting important events that have lead breast augmentation to be the number one plastic surgery performed annually.


  • The first women to surgically enlarge their breast size were Japanese prostitutes during the World Wars under the assumption that American servicemen preferred larger breasts. Some of these women had paraffin wax, sponges, and non-medical grade silicone injected into their breasts.


  • The first silicone breast implants are developed by two pioneer plastic surgeons from Texas.


  • 1976- The FDA takes charge over the approval of safety and effectiveness for new medical devices. Breast implants had entered the market 15 years prior, thus the FDA had “grandfathered” silicone implants in for approval. Data regarding safety and effectiveness of breast implants was requested by the FDA by breast implant manufacturers.


  • Silicone breast implants begin to develop a negative reputation. Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen Health Research Group starts a campaign to raise awareness that silicone breast implants cause cancer.
  • In 1988, FDA requires all breast implant manufacturers to prove the safety and effectiveness of their products in order to remain on or enter the market. Valid scientific data is evaluated over the course of 180 days.


  • 1990- CBS news anchor Connie Chung furthers public awareness of the dangers of silicone breast implants on her show, “Face to Face with Connie Chung.” Breast augmentation is viewed as a dangerous procedure with lasting negative impacts at this time.
  • February 1992- FDA calls for a moratorium on the distribution of silicone breast implants. Further research between manufacturers, multiple medical specialists and the FDA is conducted.
  • April 1992- FDA lifts moratorium on breast implants, however the only women approved for breast surgery are those undergoing breast reconstruction.
  • June 1994- The Mayo Clinic publishes a study that concludes that women who have silicone breast implants are not at an increased risk of connective-tissue disease and other disorders that were previously studied in women with implants.
  • By 1995, public opinion is swayed when The American College of Rheumatology issued a statement that concluded that there is no compelling evidence to support that silicone breast implants cause any diseases.
  • By 1997, it is proven that breast implants do not  directly cause breast cancer.


  • In May 2000, saline breast implants are approved by the FDA for women 18 years and older.
  • 2006- FDA lifts restrictions on silicone breast implants for reconstructive-purposes only. Silicone-gel filled breast implants are approved for augmentation purposes for the first time since the moratorium was instilled in 1992.
  • 2013- Breast augmentation surgery has increased 37% since 2000 in the United States according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Breast Augmentation on Long Island

Are you interested in learning more about Breast Augmentation surgeryContact Dr. Rhee today! We are located in Huntington Station, Long Island, New York, and can be reached directly at (631) 424-6707. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

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