The Facts About Breast Implants

What exactly are breast implants?

Breast implants are silicone envelopes filled with a liquid or gel. They are used to increase the size of a breast or to replace a breast that was removed because of breast cancer.

Many breast implants in the U.S. are filled with saline (salt water). The envelope is made of silicone and also contains other chemicals. So even if you get saline implants, you will still have some silicone in your body.

Breast implants filled with silicone gel are approved by the FDA only for women ages 22 and older. The FDA has not approved silicone gel breast implants for augmentation for women under the age of 22 because of safety concerns.

If implants are filled with anything other than saline or silicone, they are experimental. You are taking a bigger risk if you try them. Unless you want to be a guinea pig, don’t be fooled by stories about how they are “very popular in Europe.” They aren’t.

Breast implants vary in their surface (smooth or textured), shape (round or shaped), profile (how far it sticks out), volume (size), and shell thickness. Breast implants include an envelope or shell made of silicone, a filler, and a patch to cover the hole created when the implant was manufactured.

Breast implants can break and rupture, which can cause cosmetic problems (lumps and bumps) or serious health problems. Implants can break in a few weeks, a few months, or a few years, although some can last 15 years or more. According to the FDA, by the time a woman has had breast implants for 10 years, at least one of them has probably broken. So, anyone who gets implants should expect to have to replace them at least once every 10 years. Many women have to replace them more often because they can cause other problems in addition to breaking, and the two implants may break at different times.

Think of it like you would think about buying a new car – usually a new car doesn’t cause problems at first, but causes more and more problems as it gets older. But some cars cause problems right away, and it’s not always possible to fix them. The difference is that breast implants are in your body, and if something goes wrong the only way to fix them is to pay for surgery. There is no way to know how long your breast implants will last or whether they will cause problems.