Silicone Versus Saline Implants

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I am seeing more patients in my cosmetic breast surgery practice who are inquiring about silicone breast implants. Silicone implants were popular in the 1970s and 1980s. The former generation of silicone implants had a more “runny” or less viscous gel and the implant shell was thinner. This led to a concern because of implant rupture and possibility of the silicone gel entering the tissue and causing health problems. This sparked a moratorium on silicone gel implants by the FDA in 1992. The silicone implants were still being used for breast reconstruction after cancer and have been the implant of choice in Europe and elsewhere. There has been no scientific link between silicone implants and health problems such as lupus, scleroderma, or rheumatoid arthritis. The FDA has since allowed silicone implants to be made available to breast augmentation patients provided they are in a controlled study.

I find that the new generation of silicone implants are soft and the gel is much more viscous (they are known in the press as gummy bear implants) and patient satisfaction with these implants has been high. I find that patients who previously had silicone implants and then switched to saline, are often asking to change to the new silicone implants. Silicone and saline implants both come in different shapes and sizes depending on the patient’s body type as well as how large they want their breasts to be. Discuss the different options for breast augmentation with your plastic surgeon.