'These are just ordinary women' – how breast surgery has soared in the UK
There are eyewatering tales dating back to the late 19th century of paraffin injections, ox cartilage prosthetics and even ivory and glass balls, but cosmetic breast enlargement first became a realistic option for women in 1962, when Texan housewife and mother of six Timmie Jean Lindsey was persuaded to have silicone-filled implants fitted under the skin of her breasts.
"I thought, oh, I’d like that" Lindsey told the Guardian in 2008. "I’d like them to be perkier."
Half a century after her pioneering surgery, hundreds of thousands of women around the world have followed her lead, opting for perkier, larger or more even breasts – or simply seeking to replace them after surviving cancer.
There have been repeated scares and controversies over the decades, but medics insist the procedure is very safe if performed by qualified and well-regulated surgeons.
But while “boob jobs” are the most popular cosmetic procedure performed in the UK, according to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, the exact number performed is difficult to tally. BAAPS-registered surgeons performed 9,418 cosmetic breast augmentations in 2010, and a spokeswoman estimated the organisation represents 33%-40% of cosmetic surgeons in the UK, but it can be no more specific.
NHS figures for 2008 show that of the 15,479 women in England who had mastectomies following breast cancer, 3,216 opted for immediate reconstruction (others had reconstruction later); separately, it found that only 38% of those having reconstructions had opted for prosthetic implants, as opposed to other reconstructive techniques. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency estimates that reconstructive surgery accounts for less than 5% of the procedures performed each year. (via The Guardian)