Breast augmentation at our Vancouver practice is one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures Dr. Owen Reid performs. Today, patients have many safe, effective options when it comes to breast implants, as Vancouver women now have more choices than ever. Learn about the history of breast implants that have become the most carefully studied medical devices we know today.



Breast augmentation actually began earlier than most people may think:

    • 1890s - At the time, doctors attempted placing paraffin wax in the breasts to create an enlarged appearance. Doing so left hard, lumpy areas, which often became infected. Due to this, most doctors abandoned the technique by the early 1900s.
    • 1920s to 1940s - Surgeons at this time attempted to use fat injections to augment the breasts. Fat was taken from the abdomen and placed in the breast. Much of the fat was absorbed and the results were unpredictable, which led to the abandonment of this technique. In recent years, there have been significant advances in fat grafting techniques resulting in numerous clinical applications in both cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. Even still, fat grafting has not yet emerged as a preferred method of breast augmentation.
    • 1950s - Silicone injections were a widely used method for increasing breast size around this time. This technique yielded unsuccessful results that included: chronic inflammation, foreign body reactions, tumor-like lumps, and silicone migration.
    • 1950s - For a brief period in the 1950s, sponges were used to augment the breasts. The sponges often shrank and became hard. Removal of the implants was necessary due to a potential link with cancer.

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Dr. Owen Reid MD FRCSC


Dr. Reid has trained specifically in plastic surgery. He completed medical school with honors at the University of British Columbia prior to receiving training in surgery of the breast and body.


Dr.  Reid is an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon. He frequently attends conferences relating to reconstructive and cosmetic surgery while maintaining an active interest in post-weight loss surgery.


Silicone breast implants were first introduced in 1961. The first generation of these implants was comprised of thick outer shells and contained firm gel. Since then, there have been several generations of this type of implant with major improvements.


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In the late 1970s, the second generation of silicone implants had thinner shells and used a more liquid gel. In comparison to first generation implants, these implants were softer and felt more natural, however they were also more susceptible to ruptures and leaks.

During the mid-1980s, the third generation of silicone implants was released, which contained a slightly thicker shell. The new version of the silicone gel fill was again more cohesive and proved less likely to leak than older, liquid filled silicone gel implants.

In 1992, saline filled implants became the only option for most patients as the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) restricted the use of silicone breast implants. Similar restrictions were applied by Health Canada soon afterwards. At that time, there were concerns that silicone breast implants were associated with auto-immune diseases. No evidence existed to either prove or disprove these claims and as a result, the use of silicone implants became restricted until such time when the manufacturers could provide data that demonstrated the safety of their devices.

Since the year 2000, silicone breast implants have been available in Vancouver and throughout Canada through special approval by Health Canada. In October 2006, Health Canada announced they had granted licenses with conditions to Allergan® and Mentor Medical Systems to market their silicone gel-filled breast implants in Canada.