Since silicone gel breast implants have been released back for commercial use in late 2006, nearly 15 years after they were initially pulled from the market, they have rapidly become the breast implant chosen by most women for their breast augmentation. I have seen many women come in for breast augmentation consults that are initially dead set against silicone breast implants and want saline implants, only to change their minds once they have accurate information. In talking to patients over the past two years, here are some of the most common myths surrounding silicone gel breast implants.
1) SILICONE BREAST IMPLANTS CAN CAUSE HEALTH PROBLEMS AND MAKE ME SICK. The extensive human data that has been analysed on hundreds of thouands of women who have had silicone breast implants has failed to ever make the link to any form of autoimmune disease. This potential cause and effect has been thoroughly evaluated and been dispelled. It is the primary reason that silicone breast implants were allowed back on the market by the FDA. Silicone breast implants are one of the most extensively studied medical devices in the history of mankind. Yes it is true that there have been a very small number of women with silicone breast implants that developed autoimmune diseases but the actual rate of this occurrence is no greater than that of women who have never had breast implants. Autoimmune diseases occur in much higher numbers in women and occur mostly in the age ranges where breast augmentation surgery is likely to be performed.(ages 20 -45) So it would not be unexpected that the two will occasionally occur in the same patient. But silicone breast implants do NOT cause autoimmune diseases.
2) SILCONE BREAST IMPLANTS MAKE LEAK OUT AND SPREAD THROUGHOUT MY BODY. Today’s silicone gel implants are much more like jello than any liquid. The silicone particles are gelled together so that they move as sticky mass, not flowing like a liquid. As a result, if the implant suffered a large tear, the mass of silicone simply sits there. If you squeeze on a silicone implant that has been cut with scissors, you will see that it comes bulging out of the tear only to be retracted back into the implant when the pressure is removed. Checmiaclly, we all have silicone particles throughout our bodies in microscopic amounts due to a lifetime of exposure to that element. But women with silicone breast implants today have not been shown to have substantially higher levels than those who don’t have implants.
3) SILICONE BREAST IMPLANTS BECOME HARD OVER TIME. The phenomenon of ‘hardening of a breast implant’ is known as capsular contracture. It is really the natural scar tissue around the implant which, for reasons not completely understood, may start to thicken and get hard over time. In days gone by with old-style silicone implants, which were placed above the chest muscle, capsular contracture was common. The reasons were that small amounts of silicone leaked (known as implant ‘bleed’) through the implant lining and the body reacted by forming more scar tissue. In today’s breast augmentation surgery, the combination of newer silicone implants which have very negligible amounts of bleeding and the implant being typically placed under the muscle, have reduced the lifelong risk of capsular contracture significantly. While that risk always exists, and it is higher when placed above the chest muscle, the occurrence of capsular contracture is not common.
Dr. Barry Eppley