Silicone Breast Implants – History and News

Silicone gel filled breast implants that are currently used in plastic surgery for breast augmentation are significantly different from those previously available. The original implants that were manufactured had not undergone the rigorous evaluations mandated for medical devices. The FDA  imposed a moratorium on the use of silicone breast implants for cosmetic breast augmentation in 1992 while scientific studies were conducted to assess their efficacy and safety. Since 2006 when the ban was lifted, the percentage of breast augmentation surgeries performed with silicone implants increased from 19% to 72%, with the remainder using saline filled implants. According to statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) over 330,000 such breast enhancement surgeries were performed in total in 2012. Many women who seek breast augmentation do so to enhance their breasts because they are unhappy with their small size. Additionally breast augmentation can improve breast asymmetry, correct congenital breast deformity such as tuberous breasts, and restore breast volume after depletion subsequent to pregnancy and breastfeeding. Some patients would benefit from additional breast beautification procedures such as breast lift (mastopexy) concurrently with their breast implants, or as part of a mommy makeover. Numerous variations in implant shape, size, fill material and shell structure are available, increasingly so now that shaped silicone implants have just recently been approved for breast augmentation. Some of the options include:

  • silicone or saline fill
  • silicone gel or highly cohesive (“gummy bear”) gel
  • round or anatomically shape
  • smooth or textured shell

Silicone gel breast implants are generally considered to feel more natural than saline filled implants, and to more closely resemble the texture of normal breast tissue. Silicone implants are only approved for women aged 22 years or older, and usually require a slightly longer incision than saline implants. There are numerous alternatives for both saline and silicone implants in terms of size and projection (which relates to the degree the implants push out on a woman’s own breasts), placement of the implants under the breast tissue or under the muscle, and location of incision around the nipple, under the breast or in the armpit. Given the wide range of options available for breast augmentation, patients considering this surgery are best served by extensive discussion with their plastic surgeon to determine the ideal surgical plan. Dr. Olivia Hutchinson is a board certified plastic surgeon with fellowship training in aesthetic plastic surgery in New York City. She performs breast enhancement surgery including breast augmentation with saline and silicone breast implants in the safety, privacy and comfort of her certified Operating Room on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Hutchinson, please contact us or call us at (212) 452-1400.

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