Gel Filled Breast Implants

Hundreds of thousands of women worldwide have undergone breast augmentation. One of the most popular cosmetic surgical procedures in recent times, augmentation mammoplasty involves the placement of breast implants within the chest area to enlarge the size of a patient's breasts. There are plenty of types of breast implants available, ranging in size, shape, and texture. All breast implants are filled with a substance, either saline or silicone gel.

While breast implants with saline, a saltwater solution, are normally filled after they are placed within the body, silicone implants come pre-filled in the desired size and shape. Requiring a larger incision usually located under the breast within the crease (inframammary fold), silicone implants are composed of a pliable and durable shell that is filled with a silicone or cohesive gel. To prevent rupture, the shell is composed of three layers.

Silicone and cohesive gel implants are preferred by many women and physicians as both duplicate the texture of natural breast tissue to provide a far more natural feel than saline implants, despite the thickness of the shell. The consistency of the cohesive gel filling features the ability to maintain its shape better, minimizing the unappealing occurrence of rippling commonly resulting from the presence of saline implants. Further, in the event a cohesive gel implant were to rupture it could simply be replaced. There is no threat of leakage since it is more solid than liquid.

It is known that with factors such as age and excessive pressure, saline and silicone filled implants can rupture. When a silicone implant ruptures, it cannot be detected as easily as in the case of saline implants. Saline implants tend to flatten fairly quickly and noticeably, while silicone implants (not cohesive gel implants) leak more gradually. Signs of a silicone implant rupturing may include hard knots (nodules), pain, or tenderness. Though evidence has shown that major diseases of the body do not result from silicone, it is imperative that if women with any type of implant experience any of these symptoms, they notify their physician immediately.

toronto cosmetic clinic learning centre silicone breast implants

photos courtesy of Mentor

Health Canada, the FDA and Silicone Implants Before

However, the Food and Drug Administration addressed concerns relating to silicone implants in 1992. After insufficient evidence was supplied to prove that silicone implants could neither be confirmed as safe nor unsafe by law, the FDA decided to restrict their usage. Similar restrictions were devised by Health Canada in 2000. Such restrictions included the availability of silicone implants only for those undergoing breast reconstruction. In Canada, if the physician deemed silicone implants to be more suitable for the patient, an application could be made to Health Canada for permission.

Health Canada, the FDA and Silicone Implants Now

In the fall of 2006, both the FDA and Health Canada lifted many of the restrictions governing silicone implants. The approval was based on past, present and future research and testing. Deemed safe for general use, silicone implants from specific manufacturers are now available to women across the US and Canada. For more information about silicone implants.
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