READ THIS BEFORE CONSIDERING SILICONE BREAST IMPLANT SURGERY
With the long-awaited return of silicone breast implants to the plastic surgery marketplace, there has been a renewed interest in the procedure.This page is dedicated to the discussion of silicone gel-filled breast implant surgery.
Silicone breast implant manufacturers, such as Mentor / Inamed and Silimed, have been supplying study data to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for over a decade to show there is no statistically valid connection between silicone implants and connective tissue disease. They have also worked to improve their breast implants from earlier models. This push to get FDA approval is largely fueled by consumer desire for a more “natural” look and feel than saline implants, which can be supplied by silicone gel implants.
Today, there is less focus on anecdotal evidence and media hype, and more on scientific data based on over a decade of real-world testing. However, breast implant surgery is a major decision, and it is understandable that many women still have questions about silicone-gel filled implant models. These concerns are addressed below:
What is the difference between silicone gel-filled and saline implants?
Like many implantable medical devices, the outer shell of both silicone and saline breast implants is made of solid silicone. The difference between the two types of breast implants has to do with the material inside this shell. While saline implants are filled with salt water, similar to contacts solution, silicone implants are filled with a semi-solid, gel form of silicone. The possibility of this gel “bleeding” out of the implant was the major factor in silicone implants being pulled from the market in the early 1990’s. This will be discussed further in the Risks Section below.
What are the risks related to silicone breast implants?
Leaking – The silicone gel may “bleed” through an intact shell, into the scar tissue surrounding the implant.
Rupturing – The silicone shell may weaken over time, increasing the chance of rupture caused by trauma, such as a car accident.
Hardening – Your body may “over-heal” by forming a tight scar capsule around the implant, which can cause the breast to appear artificially round and feel unnaturally firm. Calcium deposits may also form in the scar tissue, causing unnatural firmness. This may occur on one or both sides.
Extrusion – In rare circumstances, a surgeon may provide a sub glandular implant to a woman who does not possess adequate breast tissue, allowing the implant to show or break through the thin layer of skin.
Decreased Nipple Sensation – This is more likely to occur in larger implants.
Delayed Healing – Known as tissue necrosis, the development of dead tissue around the implant can delay healing time or cause infection.
Skin wrinkling – There is evidence that this is more likely to occur in large textured implants than small or smooth implants, and is a result of the silicone shell attaching to and pulling on breast tissue.
Shifting – The implant may move after surgery, causing discomfort or abnormal breast shape.
Toxic Shock Syndrome – As with any invasive surgery procedure, there is a very slight risk of life-threatening infections, such as toxic shock syndrome.
Internal Bleeding – According the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, a collection of blood (hematoma) may develop around the breast implant after surgery in approximately three percent of women.
Fluid Collection – Known as “seroma,” fluid may accumulate around the silicone gel breast implant if the patient takes part in “vigorous activities” too soon following surgery.
Scarification – As with any surgical procedure, there will be some scarring. Depending on what type of surgery is performed, your body’s reaction to the implant, the doctor’s skill and many other variables, scarring could be barely noticeable or very obvious.
Other Risks – As with any surgery, there are a number of possible risks that are either extremely rare, or not directly correlated with a particular procedure. At this time, there is no scientific evidence connecting silicone breast implants with cancer or problems breast-feeding.
What are the long-term concerns related to silicone breast implants?
Infection – Women with silicone breast implants may be more susceptible to infection following body-piercing procedures to the breast area.
Mammograms – Silicone gel-filled breast implants may interfere with routine mammograms.
Biopsies – Silicone gel-filled breast implants may interfere with breast-tissue biopsies.
Reoperation or Replacement – Silicone implants may need to be replaced after a certain period of time. Figures vary, but some cosmetic surgeon’s suggest every 10-years, while others maintain that you should get an MRI done at least every 5-years.
Radiation – Radiation therapy to the chest region may cause unknown complications.
Connective Tissue Disease – There is no scientific evidence that women with silicone gel implants are at a greater risk of connective tissue disease, or immune system disorders than other women, or those with silicone implants.
What should I consider when choosing a silicone breast implant model?
Many plastic surgeons only work with a single breast implant manufacturer. However, most of these companies will offer a choice of either smooth or textured gel-filled silicone breast implants. Silicone implants with a smooth surface are easier to insert and generally require smaller incisions, but textured implants may have a lower incidence of breast hardening (capsular contracture).
What should I consider when choosing a type of implant surgery?
Subglandular or Submuscular?
Beneath the breast tissue, but above the muscles (sub glandular) or partially beneath the pectoral muscles (sub muscular). Placing the breast implant under the muscle usually costs more, and requires more anesthetic and healing time, but interferes less with mammograms. Placing the implant above the muscle requires adequate breast tissue, and may not be the best option for women with very small breasts. However, it is less expensive, and usually involves a faster recovery time.
Where to put the incision?
Breast implant surgery of any kind is going to produce scar tissue. However, you have options as to where you want that scar tissue to appear. These options include: Around the areola / nipple, under the breast, or in the arm-pit. Each location has positive and negative consequences. Sometimes inserting the silicone breast implant through an incision around the nipple can create highly-visible scar tissue. Inserting through an incision under the breast also creates scar tissue, but it is not usually noticeable unless the breast is lifted. Insertion through the arm-pit hides scar tissue but, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there is some evidence that armpit insertions can damage the implant.
What questions should I ask my plastic surgeon during our consultation?
What insurance is offered on your silicone gel-filled breast implants?
Are future surgeries due to complications included in the cost?
What are my limitations in terms of size and type of surgery?
Will my silicone breast implants interfere with routine mammograms?
Can you provide me with a list of patient testimonials or voluntary references?
Disclaimer – Please read before leaving this page.
The silicone breast implant information on this website is not to be taken as medical advice. It is for non-medical, informational purposes only. The author is not a medical doctor. Please consult with a qualified cosmetic surgeon before making any decisions about breast implant surgery, or any other cosmetic procedure.