All Breast Implants Are Not Created Equal

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According to new plastic surgery research, all breast implants are not created equal when it comes to long-term durability. This is important news for the millions of women worldwide who are considering having breast augmentation.

In this study the deflation rates of 500 saline breast implants from each of two manufacturers were compared over a four-year period. The implants from the leading breast implant manufacturer had a failure rate of 4.4% after four years while implants from Poly-Implant Prosthesis (PIP) had a failure rate of 15.4% over the same period. Clearly, surgeons and patients should consider this information when choosing an implant for breast augmentation. While leaking saline implants have not been associated with any adverse medical problems, they do require an additional operation for replacement.

The study was published in the prestigious journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Plastic surgeon Dr. W. Grant Stevens, an author of the study, stated, “We are committed to the safety of our patients and we want them to have accurate information when considering their surgical options.”

Saline breast implants have been the only option for most patients since the FDA restricted silicone gel implants in the 1980’s. While most are pleased with the results of augmentation with saline implants, other patients still prefer silicone gel. The gel implants are available to patients only if they agree to participate in clinical trials designed to confirm their safety. A new type of gel implant called “cohesive” has generated much interest because it is less likely to leak than previous types of implants. The cohesive gel implants are firmer than others and have been nicknamed “gummy bear implants.”

Dr. David A. Stoker, a plastic surgeon and co-author on the implant study, was asked to comment on the different types of implants. “Saline implants remain popular, but we have had a huge amount of interest in the cohesive gel implants. Our experience with the new implants has been very positive,” he said. In order to assist patients in obtaining information about their breast implant options, Drs. Stoker and Stevens created two websites, and