The Risks Of Breast Implants
The furor over whether silicone breast implants cause systemic disease
has died down since abundant data has shown no increase in systemic illness
in women with silicone breast implants versus those without implants. However,
women still need to be aware that breast implant surgery carries serious potential
All surgeries have risks. In addition to the risks of anesthesia that go hand
in hand with any surgery, it is widely known that elective breast implant procedures
carry risks. These risks include implant leakage, implant contraction, and scar
tissue build-up. For many women, this means dissatisfaction with their appearance,
health risks, and repeated surgeries.
Most plastic surgeons inform their patients, in advance, of these risks. Federal
health officials are concerned that these risks are downplayed by surgeons or
by patients excited by the prospect of enlarging their breasts. To address this
concern, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has posted photographs online
showing what a woman's breast may look like when implants leak or cause other
problems such as capsular contracture (when scar tissue around the implant tightens
enough to cause painful breast disfigurement); deflation; or wrinkling and sagging
if problematic implants are removed but not replaced.
Saline-filled implants are the only implant option for most women. Nearly 130,000
women received them in 1999 alone, most for purely cosmetic reasons. Because
of concerns about the safety of silicone implants, the FDA put a moratorium
on silicone-gel filled breast implants in 1992 except for women who enroll in
strictly controlled clinical trials. In May, the FDA ruled that saline-filled
breast implants could continue selling even though they rupture at high rates,
as long as women are informed that one in six will require additional surgery
within three years to fix problems. The FDA requires surgeons to provide brochures
detailing those risks before surgery. Critics contend that by the time women
visit a surgeon, most have already decided to get the implants and won't heed
For more information on these risks, click here.
Created: 10/25/2000  - Donnica Moore, M.D.