The FDA restricted use of silicone gel breast implants to the general market in 1992 out of fears that they could be linked to a number of cancers and autoimmune conditions. Only those patients who qualified and participated in the trials after that time were allowed to have silicone gel implants placed. As of 2006, however, the FDA has re-approved the silicone gel filled implants for all patients over 22 years of age, and many doctors are opting for these over the saline filled implants due to their natural feel. But are silicone implants really safe? What is the difference between the silicone gel implants and the saline filled ones?
Types of Breast Implants
Even saline breast implants feature a silicone outer shell. That shell is filled with saline during the implantation surgery. The silicone gel implants feature a similar outer shell, but are pre-filled with silicone. The same companies have historically made both types of implants. There are also newer silicone implants known as Gummy Bear breast implants made out of a firmer substance than the traditional silicone gel implants.
Issues With Silicone Breast Implants
There is still some contention about silicone implants, but there are a number of things we do know about them. First of all, the silicone implants aren’t meant to last forever. Rupture does occur, but you may not notice a visible change in your breast as you would with a deflated/ruptured saline implant. The best thing to do with silicone implants is to monitor them using an MRI every two years, starting three years after implantation. Using an MRI, your doctor will be able to help identify any ruptures and determine when your breast implants need to be replaced.
But Are Breast Implants Safe?
There is nothing inherently unsafe about silicone implants. Silicone implants have not been shown to have a greater risk of cancer, autoimmune conditions, connective tissue disease, or any other condition. They have also been shown to have about the same risk of capsular contraction and hardening as saline implants. With the number of patients opting for silicone gel breast implants increasing, many women are highly satisfied with the appearance and feel of their silicone implants. You should talk about the complications and benefits with your plastic surgeon when making decisions about your breast augmentation surgery.