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Are Silicone Breast Implants Really Safe?

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If you’re considering breast augmentation, you may be wrestling with decisions ranging from how to take time out from your regular routines to how to pay for plastic surgery.

One choice you’ll be making along the way is whether to opt for silicone- or saline-filled breast implants. Recalling the time—lasting more than a decade—when silicone implants were taken off the market in the U.S. many women still wonder: are silicone implants really safe?

In a word—yes. Silicone is an inert substance and doesn’t cause reactions within the body. That’s why it has so many medical applications today, including artificial joints, cardiac valves, catheters and more.

The Food & Drug Administration banned silicone breast implants in the early 1990’s due to testimony that the filling could leak into the body and lead to adverse systemic health consequences. During their time off the market, silicone implants continued to be the focus of study and scrutiny. Ultimately, no clear link to negative health effects was found. The devices continued to be the implants of choice in Europe and elsewhere, where they were never banned.

Today’s silicone filling is less liquid than that used in older generations of implants. In fact, manufacturers refer to the new, semi-solid filling as “cohesive gel” or use a similar branded description. Not only do silicone gel implants feel much like natural breast tissue, should an implant’s shell rupture the filling will most likely stay put inside the breast pocket. Implants tend to hang together like “gummy bears.”

Plastic surgeons often prefer silicone breast implants, observing they create a more natural look and feel for most women. There are patients, however, who will still select saline implants for a number of reasons. The point is, since the FDA approved silicone gel breast implants for use in the U.S. in 2006, women now have more choices. Work with your plastic surgeon to decide what’s right for you.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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