According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, silicone implants are safe but can cause problems the longer a women has them in. Many of my patients had their implants inserted in their late teens and 20's and are now entering menopause and asking about their concerns. As it turns out, about one in five women who wanted augmentation and about five in 10 who needed reconstruction will need their implant removed within 10 years. This means the 25-year-old you needs to be aware that the 35-year-old you could be facing surgery again.
The biggest problems include hardening of the area, or capsular contracture, and leakage of the silicone out into the chest cavity that might cause a variety of systemic problems. As a result, it is recommended to have an MRI of the breasts three years after initial implantation and then every two years thereafter. Leakage cannot often be seen on mammography.
Silicone implants were reintroduced to the market in 2006 after having been pulled for many years due to numerous health concerns. The implants are pre-filled and therefore come in specific sizes that are not adjustable. Recovery can take several weeks and is often painful (more so if done under the chest wall).
If you choose to have them removed, or if it’s required, you must think about your next step. Do you have new ones implanted? What if they were removed for concerning reasons? It’s important you talk with your health care provider or go back to your surgeon for follow-ups especially if you notice changes.
1) Long-Term Complications likely with Silicone Breast Implants
2) Breast Implants
Reviewed June 24, 2011
Edited by Alison Stanton