Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery

The Interesting History of Breast Augmentation

Young woman smiling

Young woman smilingIt may surprise you to learn that the first breast augmentation took place well over a hundred years ago in Germany. After a woman’s breast had become misshapen as a result of tumor removal, Dr. Vincent Czerny removed fat from her hip and transferred it to her breast. Although this inaugural breast enhancement was about restoring symmetry rather than boosting bust size, a movement was soon born.

Everything but the Kitchen Sink

Humans are nothing if not resourceful. And so, we began experimenting with a myriad of things from animal to vegetable to mineral, all in a quest to make breast size larger. In the years spanning the two World Wars, all manner of substances was used for breast augmentation, including ivory, glass, beeswax, shellac, rubber, ox cartilage and Teflon. Needless to say, none of these methods proved successful.

The 1950s ushered in the pointy-breast aesthetic, and women clamored to emulate the look. Breast implants made of a polyvinyl sponge soon took shape, but they offered short-lived results. A year after breast augmentation with the sponge, the implant became rock-hard and collapsed within the breast.

Every Dog Has Its Day

Women who today enjoy silicone implants owe a debt of gratitude to a dog named Esmeralda. The first silicone implants were tested on Esmeralda, who only enjoyed her enhanced assets for a few weeks before she chewed the stitches out. Esmeralda’s brief yet successful stint with silicone paved the way for Timmie Jean Lindsey, who, in 1962, became the first woman to have breast augmentation with silicone implants. Saline implants soon followed, debuted by a French company in 1964.


In the decades since, both types of implants have benefited from significant innovation and improvement and each year, hundreds of thousands of women enjoy an enhanced appearance thanks to breast augmentation.

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