Breast augmentation involves the use of implants or fat tissue to increase patient breast size. As of 2019, breast augmentation is the most popular surgical cosmetic procedure in the United States, with annual patient numbers increasing by 41 percent since the year 2000. Since the first documented breast augmentation by surgeon Vincenz Czerny in 1895, and later the invention of the silicone breast implant in 1963, surgeons have developed the procedure into its own specialized field of surgery, creating various operating techniques for different results. By having varied incisions, implant placements, and improved ways of treating surgery-related complications, advanced technology has enabled women to undergo breast augmentations for aesthetic, medical, or reconstructive reasons. Trans women may also benefit from breast augmentations. Having the option of a breast augmentation gives women more control over their physical appearance, which may improve their self-image and boost their confidence.
In the 1960s, two plastic surgeons from the United States, Thomas Dillon Cronin and Frank Judson Gerow, collaborated with the Dow Corning Corporation, which specialized in silicone products, to create the first silicone breast implant. Surgeons used the implant, named the Cronin-Gerow implant, to improve the look of a woman’s breasts, by correcting for asymmetry, augmenting the size, or creating a more uplifted profile. Surgeons began widely using the breast implant almost immediately after it reached the US market in 1964, and breast augmentation quickly became one of the most popular cosmetic surgeries in the country. The creation of a silicone breast implant not only established a new branch of cosmetic surgery, but it also enabled women with breast cancer to receive reconstructions to improve their aesthetic appearance after cancer treatment and removal of the cancerous breast tissues.
Vincenz Czerny was a surgeon in the nineteenth century who specialized in cancer and women’s surgical care. Czerny performed one of the first breast augmentations using a reconstruction method to correct asymmetry and disfigurement of a woman’s breasts. Additionally, Czerny improved the safety and efficacy of existing operations, such as the vaginal hysterectomy, which involves the surgical removal of some or all of a woman’s reproductive structures. He contributed to other surgeries involving the esophagus, kidneys, and intestines. He was also one of the first individuals to research alternative methods of cancer treatment and founded the Institut für Experimentelle Krebsforschung (Institute for Experimental Cancer Research), in Heidelberg, Germany. The institute became one of the first hospitals dedicated solely to the study of cancer. Czerny’s development of the breast augmentation and vaginal hysterectomy, as well as his cancer research, helped shape the creation of modern-day surgical procedures.