This is an exciting time for a woman to be considering breast augmentation. On November 17th, the FDA approved silicone gel implants for women over the age of 22 for breast augmentation. This is the first time this option has been available in the United States outside of a research study since 1992.
There are many advantages to silicone over saline implants, but there are also some issues that need to be taken into consideration before you make this decision. Here are 5 things women should know about silicone implants.
1. Silicone implants feel more natural than saline implants and, in many situations may also look more natural. This is because the silicone gel that fills these implants is more consistent with the texture of breast tissue than the salt water that fills saline implants.
2. Because the look and feel of a silicone implant is more natural than that of a saline implant, there are more options available to how these implants are placed. Many times saline implants are placed below the muscle of the chest wall to provide extra tissue to camouflage the unnatural feeling of a saline implant. Because the silicone feels more like breast tissue, it can be placed above the muscle more often.
3. No implant should be considered a lifetime device. All implants (saline and silicone included) have the potential for leak or rupture. In saline implants, this is usually obvious to diagnose as the salt water leaks out quickly and the breast looks deflated as the woman’s body soaks up the salt water. In silicone breast augmentation, it is much more difficult to diagnose a rupture and, in fact, studies have shown that an experienced plastic surgeon can only diagnose a ruptured silicone implant 30% of the time. For that reason, the FDA has recommended that all women who have silicone implants have screening breast MRIs starting 3 years after surgery then every 2 years thereafter to look for a ruptured implant. The MRI can diagnose a rupture 89% of the time. If a silicone implant is ruptured, it should be removed to prevent irritation to the surrounding breast tissue and possible migration of the silicone to other areas of the body.
4. While saline implants are usually placed while mostly empty then filled once inside the woman’s body, silicone implants are pre-filled and placed at their full volume. That means that the incision made to place a silicone implant is usually slightly larger than the incision to place a saline implant. Most silicone implants will be placed using an incision under the breast (inframammary), although depending on the size of a woman’s areola, a periareolar incision may also be an option. Silicone implants cannot be placed through the belly button.
5. The FDA has recommended a 1-2 week waiting period after a patient has been given information about silicone implants before proceeding with surgery to allow the patient to consider her options, ask questions, and make an informed decision about proceeding with surgery. Don’t be in a hurry, do your homework before your office visits, and plan ahead, especially if you’ve got a target surgery date in mind.
While no article can replace the advice a patient can receive during a personal consultation with her surgeon, keeping these issues in mind should help you understand your choices and make an informed decision. Remember, with any type of implant, the most important choice you will make is that of the surgeon you choose to do your surgery. You should choose a plastic surgeon who is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and one that makes you feel comfortable. Please feel free to visit my website by clicking on the button that says “Visit Doctor’s Website” on the left side of the introduction page under my picture.