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Silicone Breast Implants

The silicone gels that are used modern breast implants now have the ability to mimic real breast tissue more closely than ever before. In the United States, 3 brands are available: Sientra, Allergan (Natrelle) and Mentor. Dr. Pfeifer has experience with all 3 brands of implants including both the round and tear drop shaped silicone implants. Plastic surgeons are regularly praising these products for their superior characteristics when compared to silicone breast implants of the past. These companies have developed their own, patented silicone formulas that offer patients a wealth of advantages over dated technology. These devices remain highly pliable while still maintaining their ability to drastically limit the risks for silicone leakage. Patients can also count on the manufacturers themselves to take responsibility for their products thanks to the generous and thorough warranties that come with each implant.

The aesthetic advantages of silicone filled implants are many. First and foremost, they are very compressible, so the implants feel soft and natural. Saline filled implants, in comparison, are less compressible and therefore feel firmer. Keep in mind that any implant can feel firm if capsular contracture develops. Silicone implants are also lighter, less prone to rippling and have low leak rates.

One of the most exciting developments in breast augmentation is the availability of silicone implants in a tear drop shape. Until recently, 2012 in fact, silicone implants were available in only a round shape. In this design the height and width of the implant is the same and the point of most projection is in the middle of the implant. In a natural breast, the width may be wider than it is tall and the point of most projection is usually not right in the middle of the breast. Tear drop shaped implants are available in multiple configurations, where the width and height of the implant can be chosen to match the width and height of the patient’s breast. In addition, the tear drop shape mimics the shape of a natural breast. So patients have many options to choose from when selecting a silicone implant, allowing a customized, natural result. This range of options is not available with saline filled implants.

There are numerous other advantages for this new type of silicone that regularly makes them the most appealing option for patients. In addition to the consistency of the gels and their natural appearance, they are much lighter and more comfortable than the traditional saline breast implants that have been available to patients. These silicone breast implants have also proven to be much more durable. Over time, they are far less prone to experience rippling and other visible imperfections.

Silicone Implants and The FDA

Worldwide silicone implants are the number one type of implant selected by both patients and doctors. In Europe more than 90% of implants used are silicone. In the United States, silicone implants are also very popular. However, some patients still have concerns about the safety of silicone implants. The genesis of this relates to the moratorium that was placed on the use of silicone implants in the early 1990s by the FDA. There was concern that silicone implants might not be safe, especially if they leaked. In particular, there was concern that silicone implants may be related to connective tissue diseases.

Silicone filled implants have been extensively studied and achieved FDA approval in 2006. Ultimately, the FDA lifted the ban in 2006 due to the wealth of scientific evidence that disproved the link between silicone implants and disease. This came after many years of scientific study and evaluation of the both the implants and the patients who received breast implants. Even if a silicone implant leaks, there is no scientific evidence that it is medically harmful to the patient. However, if an implant leaks, the patient may develop capsular contracture and/or have additional surgery to replace the implant. Currently silicone filled implants are FDA approved for patients who are 22 years old or older.

Once the ban was lifted, manufacturers such as those mentioned above continued to advance their research with silicone products designed for breast augmentation. As a result of the research, patients now have more options for augmentation devices than they have ever had in the past.

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