Silicon Gel Breast Implants

Studies show that more than 5% of the women in the US undergo breast implants. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), more than 300,000 women underwent cosmetic breast augmentation treatment and more than 100,000 received breast augmentation for deformities (due to mastectomy or congenital) in the year 2008! These statistics do not include the augmentation procedures conducted by professionals who are not plastic surgeons.


Statistics also indicate that saline filled breast implants are slightly more popular than the silicone (silicone is formed when oxygen, hydrogen and carbon is mixed with silicon) ones. Implants that were covered with plastic films augmented were used in the late 50s and early 60s. Some of the implants are of such superior quality that they still remain without causing any side effects.


The present day silicone implants have been used in augmentation from as early as 1963.  Since that time there have been several improvements and changes to the original design. Silicone augmentation implants now come in a variety of styles and contours to suit specific requirements of women. All silicone implants are either made available to women or are under testing by the FDA for approval to be marketed. 


What is silicone breast implant made up of


An elastomer shell either is the main base of the implant. Elastomer is a polymer, either made of natural or artificial rubber. Implants use elastomer because of its ability to

  1. provide insulation

  2. resist deformity

  3. mould itself freely into required shape

The shell can be
  1. double-layered or single layered

  2. covered with foam of polyurethane (Unavailable in the US since two decades but still in use in Europe)

  3. textured

  4. smooth

  5. barrier coated

The shell is then mechanically filled with silicone of specific consistency as per standard requirements. 


Though both types of augmentation (silicone gel and saline fillings) are popularly sought after, the silicone implants are chosen for their near natural feel and their close resemblance to real breast tissue. 

FDA approval

The FDA refused approval (moratorium) for silicone gel implants in 1990 as there was no established proof of its absolute safety. Silicone-gel filled breast implants were only available for replacement and reconstruction procedures. These procedures too had to be well recorded with correct follow-up regimes and approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB). Though the FDA deemed the silicone implants safe in 2006, tracking of patients is a necessary part of the augmentation procedure.


There have been several studies conducted in the past ten years that have examined the efficacy and safety of silicone gel augmentation. So far all conclusions have indicated that there is no conceivable link between breast-related health issues (like breast cancer or connective tissue disease) and breast augmentation, using silicone gel implants.

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