Silicone gel breast implants have been around since 1962. Over the ensuing years and with many design and technological changes, it has evolved into the safe, refined, durable and aesthetically pleasing implant that we have today. In the early days, there was a very high rate of capsular contracture, a situation where the body forms firm scar tissue around the implant causing palpable hardness and a deformed appearance of the breast. Changes were made in the 1970’s which helped lower this rate. However, with thinner implant shells and a less viscous form of silicone, there was a higher rate of implant rupture as well as silicone leaching through this outer envelope.
In the 1980’s and 1990’s, the implant shells were thickened, strengthened and made largely impermeable to the silicone. This has increased their durability and life span quite substantially. In addition, the silicone gel was altered to be far more viscous, into a cohesive form much like taffy or cream cheese. If one takes a knife and cuts a silicone implant in half (you can try this at home if you have an extra implant!), the halves maintain their fullness and shape. There is no oozing of any silicone because it is very sticky and cohesive.
In the early 1990’s, the news media began relentlessly generating unwarranted hysteria regarding the safety of these implants. Their misinformation created such a “feeding frenzy” that tens of thousands of anxious women across the country were calling their plastic surgeons concerned that they had a ticking time bomb inside them. Unfortunately, many went so far as to have their implants removed just on this fear alone despite no scientific evidence to justify their decision. Even today, I still get asked by many of patients considering silicone implants for breast augmentation: “Are they safe?”
Silicone implants are probably the most investigated, scrutinized of any medical device ever. Countless basic science and clinical studies to assess risks and other issues have been done over the years by a broad array of researchers including physicians, scientists, and manufacturers. In fact, the FDA restricted the usage of silicone implants between 1992 and 2006, until additional studies were performed to substantiate the safety of these implants. This data overwhelming supports the safety of silicone breast implants. It also shows that there is no causal relationship with significant diseases such as autoimmune diseases as had been contended by non-scientists. Quite importantly, there also is no increased incidence of breast cancer in women who have silicone implants.
When you are contemplating your breast augmentation, remember:”Yes, silicone implants are safe!”
Steven H. Turkeltaub, M.D.