“I’m very thin — only 100 pounds — and after nursing three children, I was lacking in breast tissue,” says Debbie, age 40. “I got saline implants three years ago, but they didn’t look natural — and then I developed rippling.”
Fortunately, women like Debbie now have another option. On Nov. 17, 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved silicone gel breast implants for women age 22 and over.
“I decided to get silicone gel breast implants, and they’re fabulous!” says Debbie. “The new implants have made my breasts look much more natural. I’m a workout fanatic, and my silicone gel implants move with me — they bounce like natural breasts. And there’s not that ridge that I had with the saline implants.”
How do silicone gel implants stack up to the saline version?
Compared to saline implants, silicone gel implants are more natural-looking and natural-feeling — especially for women with less natural breast tissue. Silicone gel implants are a new beginning for breast reconstruction and breast augmentation.
But are silicone gel implants best for every woman considering breast augmentation surgery? It depends overall on a woman’s case. Many women over the last 14 years have gotten saline implants because that’s all that was available to them. The saline implants have worked very well for those patients.
“My saline implants look very natural,” says 37-year-old Heather. “I still see the same slope and curvature of my breasts now as before — only now they’re bigger. And my clothes fit me so much better.”
Silicone gel offers more choices
The new generation of patients who are exposed to the look and feel of silicone gel breast implants are really going to like what they see. Silicone gel implants have been readily available in other countries for many years. Given the choice, the majority of women in Europe choose silicone gel implants.
Silicone gel implants have been improved
The new cohesive silicone gel implants are specially designed to help prevent silicone from leaking into the body if the implant ruptures. The cohesive gel’s consistency is much like if you cut a jellybean in half — the filling doesn’t run all over the place. The silicone gel won’t leak into the body if the implant ruptures; it stays together. Today’s silicone gel implants also have a thicker shell than the silicone implants made before the FDA banned them in 1992.
How do the risks compare?
There are many risks in common between silicone gel and saline implants — scarring, infection, capsular contracture (hardening and tightening of the scar tissue around the implant), and the risks of surgery itself. The difference lies in what happens if an implant ruptures.
If a saline implant deflates, the saline is simply reabsorbed into the body. It’s essentially saltwater, and the patient eliminates it from the body through the urine. But if a silicone gel implant ruptures, the silicone will just sit there, and the implant needs to be removed.
A patient with a ruptured silicone gel breast implant might not even know there’s a problem, because the cohesive filling will not run all over the place or fill up a pocket. That is why the FDA has recommended a follow-up MRI screening three years after breast implant surgery, and every two years thereafter.
By contrast, when an older silicone gel implant ruptured, it lost volume because the bag was less full or the silicone gel migrated to a different part of the pocket. liquid silicone rubber