Breast Implants or Bust: The health implications of breast augmentation (PART I)

Have you considered going under the knife for breast augmentation or have you had breast implants for years? If you answer ‘yes’ to one of these questions, this article might be of interest to you!


Breast reconstruction is an increasingly popular cosmetic procedure in women and teenagers. According to the 2018 Plastic Surgery Report released by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) 101, 657* patients received breast augmentation last year. These statistics do not account for the countless breast augmentations performed by surgeons outside of the ASPS and around the world. Despite the prevalence of cosmetic breast construction, there continues to be a debate on the safety and long-lasting implications on the health for those individuals who have chosen breast implants.


What are breast implants made of?

There are essentially two types of breast implants: saline and silicone gel-filled. Saline-filled breast implants contain a silicone outer shell filled with sterile saline (salt water) solution. Silicone gel-filled breast implants have a silicone outer shell that is filled with silicone gel. The shell of both types of breast implants are made of silicone elastomer. The breast implants are designed to be placed in the body behind the breast tissue or under the chest muscle.


What is the big deal?

Breast implants have had a long history of concerns. Breast implants were first sold in the United States in 1960. At this time breast augmentation was not a popular cosmetic procedure, and neither was the research in regards to health concerns surrounding the product. According to the National Center for Health Research, it wasn’t until 1991 that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required companies to prove the safety of silicone breast implants. Shortly after that, the FDA found the data to show inadequate results to warrant silicone breast implants as safe. This would be the same situation for saline breast implants in 2000. Between 1992 – 2006 silicone implantation could only occur in clinical trials in those with cancer or broken implants. Despite the approval of silicone and saline breast implants back on the market again in 2006, women continue to come forth with reported complications. On March 19, 2019, the FDA issued warning letters to both Mentor Worldwide LLC and Sientra, two implant manufacturers for failure to comply with post-approval study requirement which can be found on the FDA government website. This ultimately means that thousands of women in the United States over a span of seven decades have been given the option to go under the knife for brand new breasts without knowing the long-term health implications.

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