Silicone Bounces Back, Challenges Saline

Silicone Bounces Back, Challenges Saline Almost two decades after it was banned from use for cosmetic breast augmentation, the silicone gel implant has bounced back stronger than Mickey Rourke’s career. In 2006, the Food and Drug Administration concluded its intense, lengthy review of silicone implants, determining that no connection could be drawn between the implants and some of the serious health risks that had been tied to them in the early ‘90s. There simply was no proof of any cause-and-effect relationship between ruptured silicone gel implants and autoimmune illnesses. As a result, silicone gel, which was still widely used for reconstructive breast surgery, was formally reapproved for use in traditional cosmetic breast enlargement procedures.

As one might expect, the return of silicone sent shockwaves through the plastic surgery industry, and they’re still being felt today, as doctors and patients weigh the pros and cons of silicone and its key competition, saline breast implants. Like any good debate, the sides are drawn pretty equally, and both options have their strong benefits. To simplify, this is how the silicone vs saline implant argument typically breaks down:

Silicone Gel Implants:
  • More natural shape, appearance
  • Less visible rippling
  • More natural simulation of the feel of natural breast tissue

Saline Breast Implants
  • Considerably cheaper than silicone
  • Smaller incisions, less scarring
  • Lower rupture rate & proven safety track record

One key factor that both works for and against silicone gel implants is the product’s recent evolution. Most of the statistical data gathered on silicone is based on studies done on the third or fourth generation of the product, which did reveal them to be almost twice as susceptible to rupture or contracture as saline. However, as with all forms of cosmetic surgery, silicone implants have advanced with time, and the current generation sports both a stronger, thicker shell and a more cohesive, stable silicone gel. This has led many silicone supporters to argue that current silicone implants may be just as durable as saline, if not more so. However, because no long term studies exist on the new versions of silicone implants yet, it’s impossible to completely assess whether they’ve truly addressed the past concerns that plagued them.

In the end, any woman considering breast implants needs to way her options through a thorough consultation with a plastic surgeon. Some doctors are better versed in one form of breast augmentation than another, so these factors are very important in the decision making process. It should always be noted, though, that the satisfaction rate among breast enhancement patients, for both saline and silicone, is over 95%, even after a five year period. A number like that helps to put some of the controversy surrounding the procedure in its proper perspective.

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