Breast Augmentation – Round Silicone Breast Implants

History of silicone breast implants

The first breast augmentation with silicone implants took place in 1962. The original breast implants were teardrop-shaped and the silicone inside the implant was thick. Over the years modifications were made to the breast implants. Thinner silicone gel and thinner implant shells made the implants softer.

In 1992 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had some safety concerns about silicone implants.  They stopped allowing use of silicone implants in cosmetic surgery until studies were completed.  In 2006 the FDA reviewed the studies that had been completed and heard testimony both in favor of and against round silicone gel breast implants.  As a result the FDA lifted the restrictions it had placed in 1992.  The different implant companies have made modifications to their silicone implants since 2006.  The modifications have all passed the FDA approval process.

Benefits of Silicone Breast Implants Compared to Saline

Silicone implants may feel a little more natural to a hand touching a breast than saline implants.  They feel less “crinkly” (see the next paragraph).  Silicone implants also may provide a little more fullness in the upper areas of the breasts than similar-volume saline implants.

Both saline and silicone implants have some wrinkles in their shell surfaces.  The implant companies have developed thicker silicone gels to minimize this issue.  Silicone implants from the 1990’s and early 2000’s had thinner silicone than is found in implants more commonly used today.  The term “gummy bear” has been used for thicker silicone gel implants.  This is because if one of the implants with this thicker gel is torn in two, it’s kind of like biting a gummy bear candy in two.  The silicone is thickly bonded to itself.  It doesn’t leak all over.

Best Candidates for Silicone Breast Implants

A woman who is thin and has little breast tissue may have a better result with silicone breast implants than saline.  Less tissue covering a breast implant increases the likelihood of wrinkles in the implant being seen.   Silicone breast implants may also be better for a woman whose breasts are low on her chest but not actually droopy.  As described above, the thickness of the gel may help provide more fullness higher on the chest than similar-volume saline implants.  FDA regulations require that a woman be at least 22 years-old to be eligible for silicone gel breast implants.

How Long do Silicone Implants Last?

Like other types of medical devices, silicone gel breast implants will wear out over time. In studies evaluated by the FDA it was found that 3 to 9% of women who underwent cosmetic breast augmentation developed a leak of one of their implants by 6 or 7 years. Taken another way, 91 to 97% of women who undergo breast augmentation with silicone implants have implants that are intact after 7 years. The exact length of time that implants last is not known, but it appears that silicone implants may last longer than saline breast implants.

Risks of Silicone Breast Implants

The vast majority of women who undergo breast augmentation with round silicone implants are happy with their results.  As with all surgical procedures, however, there are some risks.  For instance, infection is a risk.  Although uncommon, if an infection occurs a breast implant may need to be removed.  The scar tissue that develops internally around a breast implant may become firm. This is known as capsular contracture. There has also been concern that silicone gel breast implants may cause connective tissue disorders like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. This has been evaluated by many doctors in numerous studies. The studies indicate that breast implants are not significantly associated with a risk of developing a defined connective tissue disease. There are additional risks and these are discussed with women when they visit Dr. Kunkel’s office.

Breast implant companies

There are three companies making silicone gel breast implants that are approved by the FDA for use in the U.S. Links are provided below. Each company has its own manufacturing techniques, and each company provides warranties. Learn more about each company by clicking on the link:

 



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