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History of Implants

It has been more than half a century since the first breast implants were developed. This is a material that has been subjected to a lot of appreciation, depreciation, controversy, and appraisal. Through all of this, a breast augmentation surgery using breast implants stands out as the most common cosmetic surgery in the UK with an estimated 30 million women living happy lives thanks to breast implants. In more recent times, as many as 8 to 10 thousand women annually consider and choose this surgery for improving upon the deficiency of their breast proportions.

However, the root of the whole idea and the maiden breast implant development dates back to the 19th century when direct injections of body fat, silicone, and paraffin helped in enlarging the breasts. These procedures did not completely meet the purpose and were largely prone to health hazards such as inflammation, necrosis, infection, and many other forms of surgical traumas. Sometimes, these would also lead to a mastectomy procedure.

The development of standardized silicone gel implants took place during 1958 after a lot of trial and error with various designs and types of incisions. Breast augmentation surgeries soon started showing some consistent and successful cases involving the silicone implants and a handful of incision types.

However, with rupture of the implant and gel leakage being an interminable complication, silicone gel implants had to withstand a great degree of controversies as questions were raised about its safety. In the meantime, saline implants made an entry into the market.

Saline breast implants comprise a silicone shell filled with a sterile solution which, even in the event of a rupture, does not cause any harm to the body. The device worked brilliantly and ruled the market as the best breast augmentation device during the early 90s till 2006. Silicone implants, meanwhile, continued to face numerous legal, scientific, and medical testimonies headed by the FDA.

By 2006 the silicone breasts had all condemns cleared against them when FDA provided the approval that it was safe to have them as breast augmentation devices.

In recent times, silicone implants have been the most widely chosen device in the UK with the maximum number of success stories alongside saline implants. Both of them lie in the same spectrum of safety and complications which can be influenced by an individual’s choices and requirements. This is something that can be discussed and sorted out in consultation with a well recognized plastic surgeon.

However, as in the case of complications surrounding capsular contracture which is an interminable complication today, a number of safety measures need to be taken. Despite this well-known fact, the majority of the attention that implants have received over the past 50-year period has been focused on implant rupture and unsubstantiated claims of implants causing systemic human disease.

Silicone gel-filled implants in the UK today have developed fourth and fifth generation variants using cohesive gel implants that deal with much stricter manufacturing and testing standards. Fifth generation cohesive gel implants have been widely in use in the UK as well as the world over the past decade but are yet to receive FDA approval. Cohesive gel implants are otherwise referred to as gummy bear implants. One of their main advantages is the less rippling and lack of gel leak or extrusion in case of breakage of the silicone elastomer shell. There are also hopes of these implants coming with lower rates of capsular contracture though preliminary evidence suggests that contracture is still a major problem as with all other previous generations of implants. To sum it up, a breast augmentation surgery involving the use of both silicone and saline implants is the most commonly sought cosmetic procedure available in the UK with the newer technique of fat transfer augmentation also making a mark with its popularity.

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