When planning elective surgery, every prospective patient should ask themselves whether the procedure they are about to undergo is safe. This guideline is no different with breast augmentation. With more than 200,000 women going under the knife each year to receive breast implants, the question must be asked, are they safe?
Implanting an artificial device into the body, with the required surgical procedure, does carry some risk. This includes infection, pain, and nerve damage leading to numbness in the breast area. Another danger of breast implants is capsular contracture, in which collagen forms tightly around the implant. The collagen squeezing inwards has the potential to cause pain. However, newer breast implant styles, as well as newly developed methods for implantation, have lowered this risk.
The safety of breast implants depends in part on the type of implant used, with the two main choices being saline and silicone gel. The material inside the implant matters because all breast implants pose the possibility of a leak or rupture. Saline, or salt water, is safe and can be reabsorbed by the body without posing a health risk. After more than forty years of use in breast augmentation procedures and continuous scientific testing, there is no evidence that saline breast implants, aside from the risks of surgery, can be tied to any significant medical issues.
There has been more controversy over the use of silicone breast implants, even leading to the FDA restricting their use for a number of years, although they are now believed to be safe. It has been thought that silicone implants are somehow tied to fibromyalgia and autoimmune symptoms. One study suggested a link between silicone implants and various forms of cancer. However, dozens of other scientific studies have found silicone gel breast implants to be safe.
Precautions to minimize risk
To minimize the possible safety risks of silicone breast implants, patients are advised by the FDA to undergo MRI screenings every 2 years to check for a ruptured or leaking implant. While the silicone is believed to be safe when contained within the implant shell, the possible negative health issues arise when the silicone leaks out into the body. As a result, it is important to catch a leaking silicone implant early.
The bottom line is that women must weigh this decision carefully. If choosing silicone implants, take the right precautions to avoid unnecessary health issues caused by a ruptured breast implant.
Polypropylene breast implants
Breast implants and cancer
Breast implants bottoming out
Percentage of women with breast implants