The Food and Drug administration approved silicone gel breast implants for use in all women over the age of 22. Silicone implants were the first modern implants ever used and were implanted in millions of women from 1962 until 1992. In the late 1980’s, however, questions arose as to the safety of silicone gel implants and they were taken off the general market in 1992. The media in combination with malpractice lawyers advanced the misconception that the implants could cause lupus, scleroderma, and other diseases. Time and true scientific study has shown that the implants do not cause these problems and are safe for use.
Current silicone breast implants contain silicone that is much more cohesive than older models. Previous gel implants contained a gel that had the consistency of maple syrup while today’s implants contain a more Jell-O type material which will not run when cut open. Today’s silicone gel implants also have a more durable shell. That being said, it is important to note that all implants will rupture at some point and it is harder to replace silicone implants that their saline counterparts. Saline implants simply deflate and their shells can be removed and a new implant placed. Silicone gel will tend to stick to the surrounding breast tissues and will be tougher to totally remove requiring more of an operation. In the end, however, a replacement procedure should have an excellent result.
The FDA also proposed MRI breast examinations every other year to look for ruptures in cases of silicone breast augmentation. This is because many silicone ruptures are “silent”. Since your body makes a scar around any implant placed in the body, that scar can hold the silicone gel in place even if the shell is broken. In the past, many doctors left silent ruptures alone. The FDA however, wants to find these ruptures if present. The problem of MRI monitoring of silicone breast implants is the cost. Insurance will probably not cover the cost and it could mean a $1000 to $2000 expense every other year. These MRI investigations are not mandatory, but they are advised and it is up to doctors and patients to discuss this, and all other issues, so that patients understand all the consequences of their choices.
In the end, silicone breast implants offer another choice. They feel more natural than saline and are a great choice for patients with little breast tissue. The FDA does, however, advise MRI monitoring of these implants and when they do rupture, the operation to change them in more complicated. The incision to implant them is slightly longer and they can not be put in through a belly button or armpit approach. In the end, there are many issues to discuss and the only way to see what is best for you is with an in-person consultation.