The Silicon Breast Implant Issue - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/12/04

The Silicon Breast Implant Issue

Women who want silicon breast implants for cosmetic surgery may be in for a long wait after all.

Last week, the FDA rejected one company's bid to bring them back, so where are we now on this issue? Well, the thumbs down by the FDA may mean that silicon breast implants won't hit the general market as soon as some had hoped, but it doesn't mean they're completely banned either.

The implants will still be available to women participating in studies or undergoing reconstruction. Silicon's selling point, says Dr. Banbury, is that the implants look and feel more natural. So, while the wait continues, newer versions of the silicon implant are under study.

"In fact, we're going to start a study at the Cleveland Clinic with a newer type of silicon implant, where it's treated in such a way that if you did have a leak, it won't come out. It's more like cold butter versus soft butter. If you cut through it, it stays in two pieces," says Dr. Jill Banbury, Cleveland Clinic plastic surgeon.

Some doctors in Lubbock are already using the newer gummy silicon implants for reconstruction. Some 236,000 American women underwent breast enlargement in 2002 and that number is expected to climb if the improved silicon implants become widely available again.

Inamed, the company that lost the bid to bring silicon back on the market says in countries where it sells both versions (saline and silicon), 90% of recipients prefer silicon implants.

Among the questions the FDA wants answered about silicon implants are:

  • Whether women whose implants leak silicon without symptoms need them removed
  • Doing mechanical testing to predict how long implants will last before rupturing
  • Performing more detailed exams of what happens when silicon leaks beyond the breast
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