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Are Breast Implants Safe? Yes And Here’s Why

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Like Goldilocks, some women think their breasts are too big. Others think they’re too small. And amazingly, a small minority of women think their breasts are just right. For women who want larger, fuller breasts, breast implants are a safe, highly successful way to get the breast size they’ve always wanted. For more information on breast augmentation, download our free fact sheet!

Three types of breast implants

There are three types of breast implants available in the United States today: 

  • Silicone breast implants are filled with silicone gel
  • Saline breast implants are filled with saline (sterile saltwater)
  • New structured, saline-filled implant (Ideal Implant) that combines the natural look and feel of silicone gel with the safety and peace of mind of saline (not eligible for my special pricing)

Most women (and most plastic surgeons, myself included) prefer the look and feel of structured or silicone implants, both of which are generally considered to be more like real breast tissue. Saline implants are more prone to cause rippling of the skin.

Which type of implant is best: silicone, saline or structured implant?

In my opinion, the answer is unique to each patient. It highly depends on how a woman feels about a host of issues, such as look, feel, cost, monitoring for silicone gel implant rupture, size of incisions, the potential need to replace the implants, pre-operative breast size and the desired post-operative size and shape.

Your plastic surgeon may have a preference for one type of breast implant over another. For my patients, before deciding on which type, I always take into consideration:

  •          a woman’s body type
  •          her age
  •          the current size of her breasts

Silicone implants

Most women and plastic surgeons prefer the look and feel of silicone breast implants, which are generally considered to be more like real breast tissue. Silicone implants are pre-filled and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Generally, I prefer the feel of silicone over saline. However, silicone implants are more expensive, require a slightly longer incision, and are a little more difficult to know if they have ruptured. Although they were taken off the market by the FDA for several years due to safety concerns, all of the valid scientific studies have shown this type of implant to be safe. Silicone breast implants are FDA-approved for augmentation in women aged 22 and older.

Saline implants

Saline breast implants are silicone shells filled with sterile salt water (saline). Since they are filled after they are implanted in the breast, they require a slightly smaller incision than silicone ones. Saline breast implants provide a uniform shape, firmness and feel, are less expensive than silicone implants and are FDA-approved for augmentation in women age 18 and older.

Structured implants

The structured, saline-filled implant (IDEAL IMPLANT) combines the natural feel of silicone with the safety and peace of mind of saline. Created by a plastic surgeon, structured implants give you a realistic, natural look and feel without the drawbacks that concern women most—unnatural feel and silent rupture.

Are breast implants safe?

Silicone: In 1992, the FDA restricted the use of silicone breast implants and allowed only women having breast reconstruction after breast cancer surgery to get them. For the next 14 years, women who wanted breast augmentation could only receive saline breast implants. In 2006, after reviewing research and finding no connection between silicone implants and disease, the FDA once again approved the sale of silicone breast implants.

Saline: If the implant shell leaks, a saline implant will simply collapse and the saline will be absorbed and naturally expelled by the body.

Structured: Approved by the FDA and Health Canada in 2014, the structured, saline-filled IDEAL IMPLANT has undergone 10 years of development, testing and refinement, including the clinical expertise of numerous plastic surgeons. 

What Are the Risks Of Breast Implants?

Although both silicone and saline breast implants are both considered safe, there are some risks associated with each. While studies have not found evidence that breast implants, either silicone or saline, are connected with serious disease, there are still risks. There are also long-term implications. Here are some of the breast implant safety issues that you need to consider.

  • Ruptures
    Ruptures are a risk with either silicone or saline breast. Ruptures might be caused by a surgical error, a fall or (very rarely) the pressure exerted on the breast during a mammogram.If a saline breast implant breaks, all that leaks out is saltwater which is harmlessly absorbed into the body. When a silicone breast implant breaks, the leaking silicone stays in your body and can sometimes spread outside the breast and into lymph nodes. Studies have not found that this results in any increased risk of disease. If a silicone implant ruptures, your physician will probably recommend removing the implant and any loose silicone.
  • The need for further surgeries
    Over time, breast implants wear out and need to be replaced. In general, a rupture becomes more likely as breast implants age. The FDA estimates that breast implants should last at least ten years, but studies have shown that some breast implants last much longer than that, and others less.
  • Change in breast shape
    Also over time, breast implants can change shape. One breast might start to look very different from the other. This is because sometimes, the tissue around the implant hardens, requiring surgery.

Choosing The Right Breast Implant For You

Whether you want to enlarge small or underdeveloped breasts, or breasts that have decreased in size after you have had children, getting breast implants is a safe, highly proven way to get the breast size you’ve always wanted. The vast majority of the 300,000 women who get breast implants every year are satisfied with their decision and with how their breasts look and feel. While some women may be concerned about health risks, research has generally not found any association between breast implants and adverse health effects.

If you are thinking about having breast implants, your initial step should be to consult with a board certified plastic surgeon with extensive experience in performing successful breast implant surgeries. Whenever I have a patient seeking breast implants, I make sure that they thoroughly understand the benefits and risks of this specialized surgery. (For more information, please see my Breast Augmentation webpage.) As I always say, the more you know, the more confident you will feel in your decision and the happier you will be with the results.

If you are interested in breast implants

If you are thinking about having breast implant surgery and would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact me. I will send you additional information prior to your appointment. During our meeting, I will answer any questions you may have, assess your breasts, your reasons for wanting surgery and your expectations. Then together, we will decide which option would be the best one for you.

Want to know more about breast implant surgery?

You might also find these pages helpful on my website

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Board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS), and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (FACS), Samuel J. Beran, MD is a highly accomplished plastic surgeon with offices in Manhattan, Harrison and Mount Kisco, NY. With more than 20 years’ experience and a thorough command of the most advanced techniques and technologies, Dr. Beran consistently provides his patients with the highest level of plastic, cosmetic and reconstructive surgery of the breast, face, skin and body. Recently, Dr. Beran was named a “Top Doctor” by RealSelf for his dedication to responding to consumer questions and patient feedback. The “Top Doctor” designation is awarded to less than 10% of the RealSelf physician community. 

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"Dr. Beran is a board certified plastic surgeon, specializing in cosmetic surgery procedures such as breast augmentation. He is amazing and I definitely recommend him."

-Olivia