Questions about Silicone Breast Implants

Plastic Surgeon Serving Indianapolis, Indiana

What is silicone?

Silicone is derived from silicon, a metal-like element that combines with oxygen to form silicon dioxide, or silica. Beach sand, crystals, and quartz are silica. Heating silica with carbon at a high temperature produces silicon, which can be converted into a long chemical chain, or polymer, called silicone in the form of a liquid, a gel, or a rubbery solid.

Silicone can be found in many common household items, such as suntan and hand lotion, antiperspirants, soaps, processed foods, and chewing gum. There is no evidence that silicone in any of these forms is linked to any diseases.

Are silicone implants safe?

Silicone has long represented a high standard of safety, and it is found in many medical products that are used every day, such as catheters. Higher levels of silicone have been found in cows' milk and commercially available infant formula than are found in the breast milk of women with implants.

The Institute of Medicine reported that:

There is no evidence that silicone implants are responsible for any major diseases of the whole body. Women are exposed to silicone constantly in their daily lives.

Do silicone implants cause breast cancer?

There is no scientific evidence that silicone causes any type of cancer, including breast cancer. Furthermore, there is no evidence that silicone breast implants result in breast cancer being diagnosed at a more advanced stage.

Should I choose silicone or saline breast implants?

Silicone and saline breast implants each have their respective advantages and disadvantages. Choosing what is best for you will depend on both your body type and what factors are most important to you.

Silicone breast implants are softer and have a more natural feel than saline implants, but if you already have substantial breast tissue this difference becomes less significant. However, if you have very little breast tissue (A-cup or less), a silicone breast implant will look and feel more natural.

Silicone breast implants are also less likely to result in a ripple or fold than saline because the silicone gel is thicker and holds its form better than saline. The softness of silicone allows it to settle into its proper position more quickly and easily than saline.

Saline implants have been in general use for a much longer time than the current version of silicone breast implants. As a result, its long-term safety profile would have to be considered more reliable than that of silicone. If a saline breast implant leaks, the saline is harmlessly absorbed by your body. Silicone would have to be removed when the implant is replaced. Regarding cost, saline breast implants are currently less expensive than silicone.

The most important thing for you is to have an open and informed discussion with your plastic surgeon about these two options so that you can make the choice that will satisfy your needs.

What is capsular contracture?

The scar tissue or capsule that normally forms around the implant may tighten and squeeze the implant and this tightening is called capsular contracture. Capsular contracture is more common following infection, hematoma, and seroma. It is also more common with subglandular placement.

Symptoms range from firmness and mild discomfort, to pain, distortion, palpability of the implant, and/or displacement of the implant. Additional surgery is needed in cases where pain and/or firmness is severe. This surgery ranges from removal of the implant capsule tissue to removal and possibly replacement of the implant itself. Capsular contracture may happen again after these additional surgeries.

You should be aware that closed capsulotomy, the practice of forcible squeezing or pressing on the fibrous capsule around the implant to break the scar capsule, is not recommended. It may result in breakage of the implant.

Will my implants be above or behind the muscle?

In most cases, breast implants are placed under, or behind, the pectoralis major muscle using a technique known as sub-muscular placement. The advantages include a lower risk of scar tissue tightening (capsular contracture), more support for the implant leading to less sagging, and more fullness in the upper part of the breast. Also, it is easier to get a good mammogram and you are less likely to feel the implant.

Reading questions and answers on our website is an excellent step in your self-education, but for personal information about breast implant choices, a consultation with Dr. Fata is the way to go. You can bring your questions and Dr. Fata will answer them with you in mind, your build, your goals and so forth. Give Renaissance Plastic Surgery a call at 317-575-9152 or complete our online contact form to schedule your consultation. We serve the entire Indianapolis area.