Before any type of plastic surgery, it’s common for people to have concerns about the overall safety of the procedure. You want to know what the risks are and what you can do to reduce any potential complications. In the case of breast implants, women usually aren’t only concerned about the safety of the surgery. They also often wonder if the implants themselves are safe.
Safety concerns about breast implants date back to the 1980’s. In the case of silicone implants, the concerns were enough to have the FDA pull them from the market in the 1990’s. After many studies and tests, the FDA found that the risk posed by implants was small. It once again allowed them for use in cosmetic breast augmentation in the early 2000’s. If you are considering breast implants and surgery, here’s what you need to know about the safety of implants.
A Quick History of Breast Implants
The first breast augmentation surgery using silicone implants was performed in 1962. Although miraculous for their time, early breast augmentation and early breast implants were nothing like what’s available today. Complications like hematomas and capsular contracture were more common back then.
After their introduction, silicone breast implants became increasingly popular and remained so for several decades. But as their popularity increased, so did concerns about their safety and the risks involved. Some women who had gotten silicone implants believed that their implants were responsible for a range of medical problems, including conditions such as lupus and fibromyalgia. In some instances, women believed that removing their implants allowed their medical problems to clear up.
Although there were no conclusive studies that proved that implants were connected to specific health issues, concerns over the safety of implants led the FDA to pull silicone implants from the cosmetic market in 1992. From that point, only women seeking reconstructive surgery could receive silicone implants. Women wanting to increase their breast size for cosmetic reasons were left with saline implants.
From 1992 and 2006, the FDA reviewed research and ultimately found that there wasn’t a link between silicone implants and specific diseases. It decided to allow surgeons to use silicone implants for cosmetic surgery once again.
The newly available silicone implants actually offered several advantages over saline options for the right patient. For one thing, silicone implants have a more natural feel than saline implants. They are also less likely to ripple or appear visible under the skin. Silicone implants also have a lower risk for capsular contracture than saline.
Another big difference between saline and silicone implants is what happens to the implant if it should rupture or leak. In the case of saline implants, the salt water in the implant is likely to seep out into the body, where’s it’s safely absorbed. Depending on the quality of the leak or rupture, the implant might quickly deflate or the process might be more gradual.
Since silicone implants are filled with a thick, viscous gel, they aren’t going to seep out or “leak” into the body the way a saline implant would. That can be both good news and bad news. The good news part of it is that the implant won’t change much in terms of size or shape should it leak. The bad news part of it is that you’d need to use imaging to determine whether or not the implant is leaking.
Implants and the C-Word
More recently, new concerns have come up regarding the connection between silicone implants and cancer. A story in the New York Times recounted the experience of a woman who had gotten silicone breast implants as part of reconstructive surgery following a mastectomy. Ten years later, she was diagnosed with cancer again, but not breast cancer. In this case, the diagnosis was breast implant-associated anaplastic large-cell lymphoma.
The story caused a bit of a panic among women with breast implants and women considering them. But the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, in a response to the NY Times, pointed out that the lymphoma is incredibly rare and has affected a very small portion of the millions of women who have received silicone breast implants.
The ASPS noted that mention of the lymphoma is a part of the informed consent process before implants are placed. Additionally, the organization is working with the FDA to gather information on patients with the cancer to determine the best course of treatment and detection. The rarity of the disease makes the process of getting information on women who have it very slow.
Researching the pros and cons of breast implants and discussing safety risks with your surgeon before plastic surgery can not only help reduce your risk for complications, but also help you better understand what is involved in getting implants and breast augmentation surgery. It’s also a good idea to work with a plastic surgeon who specializes in breast surgery, such as Dr. Paul Vitenas, in Houston, Texas. Dr. Vitenas has regularly been named a top doctor and is one of the country’s highest rated breast surgeons. To schedule your consultation with Dr. Vitenas, call 281-484-0088 today.