It has been 3 years since the FDA approved the use of silicone breast implants for cosmetic breast augmentation, and so it seems like a good time to look back on our experience thus far. Silicone breast implants were initially viewed with understandably great caution by women and plastic surgeons, and it took some time for them to eventually embrace silicone breast implants as a viable, and in some cases, better option for cosmetic breast augmentation. Some of the reasons for this gradual thaw include the word-of-mouth positive experiences of patients and plastic surgeons with this new alternative of silicone breast implants for breast enhancement.
However, it takes time to accumulate solid statistical information to support these anecdotal experiences, and at this time up-to -date data is hard to come by. Fortunately, we can access the research done in Europe on silicone breast implants where they have been available for a much longer time. One of the best studies came out of Denmark where they studied 1472 women from 1999 to 2001, 85% of whom had cosmetic breast augmentation (88% were silicone breast implants and 12% were saline breast implants).
They found that the most common problem was change in sensation to the breast skin and nipple, although in the majority of cases such changes are temporary. They also found that hardening of the scar tissue (capsular contraction) occurred in just 4% of patients and most of these were minor. Most importantly, only 1% of women required additional surgery for complications related to breast augmentation.
As we await further studies in the U. S. on the use of silicone breast implants for cosmetic breast augmentation, the experience in Denmark and other European countries should allow women to confidently consider silicone breast implants as a safe option for cosmetic breast enhancement although breast augmentation with saline breast implants still remains a safe option as well.