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Silicone or Saline Implants – You have a choice

The original breast implants used for breast augmentation were Silicone rubber bags filled with a silicone gel. These implants were removed from the market here in the US in 1992 due to fears of toxicity if the implant shell leaked. In 2006, they returned for use once again since the studies could not find a connection with the leaking gel and the symptoms that many women claimed were caused by the gel. The alternative had always been the saline implant and some still prefer it today.

Recently, a panel of experts concluded that the silicone breast implants used today are safe. They also recommended that patients do not need to get a magnetic resonance imaging test three years. This was the previous recommendation to check for leaking implants.

A top government health official, Dr. William Maisel, chief scientist for the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices, said silicone breast implants were safe. “We felt that way before the meeting, and we continue to feel that way after the presentations and discussions over the past two days”. He admitted that there are risks of all types if breast implants including ruptures, a hardening of the area around the implants, the need to remove the implants, scarring, pain, infection and asymmetry. He said “Women should feel assured that the F.D.A. continues to believe that currently marketed silicone breast implants are safe”.

Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Research Center for Women and Families felt that Johnson & Johnson and Allergan had not collected enough data to prove implant safety. “And without proper data, we still don’t know how safe or effective they are and whether there are certain patients at risk for extremely negative outcomes,” she said.

The panel of experts agreed that patients should no longer be told that they should get a magnetic resonance imaging test three years after getting implants and every two years following. Dr. Maisel said. “F.D.A. continues to believe, as does the panel, that M.R.I. is the gold standard for evaluating breast implants for silent rupture, but there was consensus among the panel that the requirements for ongoing M.R.I.’s should be removed.”

In my Pasadena Plastic Surgery practice, I offer both types of breast implants and make recommendations based on the anatomy and on the expectations of each patient. Currently, approximately 80% of my patients chose silicone gel breast implants.