Debunked: 6 Myths About Silicone-filled Breast Implants
Breast augmentation with implants consistently ranks as one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures. In 2014, it took the No. 2 spot with 286,694 surgeries performed, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Of these, 80 percent were performed with silicone-filled implants and 20 percent with saline-filled implants. While silicone-gel-filled breast implants are making an impressive comeback after a 14-year ban on these devices was lifted, many myths about silicone-filled implants and their safety still abound.
Here we debunk six myths about silicone-filled breast implants.
Myth No. 1: They Cause Systemic Diseases
False. The FDA banned silicone-gel implants in 1992 because of fears they might cause cancer, lupus and other systemic diseases, but the implants were exonerated in 2006 when no such link was found.
Myth No. 2: They Last Forever
False. One in five women who get breast implants has them removed within 10 years, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Reasons for breast implant removal may include complications and/or ruptures. When a saline-filled breast implant leaks, it is obvious. This is not the case with silicone-gel filled implants. Silicone leaks can be silent. MRIs should be performed every three years to make sure there is no leak. Discuss screening with your plastic surgeon.
Myth No. 3: They Cause Cancer
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False. This has been extensively studied for decades, and there is still no definitive evidence of a link between silicone-filled breast implants and common cancers. That said, there is a possible association between breast implants and the development of anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), a very rare cancer of the immune system.
Myth No. 4: They Interfere with Breastfeeding
False. You can breastfeed with breast implants, but incision and implant placement will make a difference. Tell your plastic surgeon if you plan to breastfeed so he or she can maximize your chances of being able to do so successfully. There is no risk of passing silicone gel into breast milk, even if the implants were to rupture. Another fear about breast implants and breastfeeding is that the combination will lead to sagging, but this too is unfounded.
Myth No. 5: They Look Fake
False. Not all breast augmentations look obvious or fake. Many plastic surgeons specialize in natural-looking results so women look fit, not fake. Discuss your goals and expectations with your plastic surgeon before booking your procedure to make sure you are on the same page regarding your results.
That said, some women actually want fake-looking, clearly augmented breasts, according to UK sociologist, Debra Gimlin.
Myth No. 6 They Obscure Breast Cancer on Screening Exams
There is no black and white answer here. The truth is that all types of breast implants can mask cancer, but undergoing a screening mammogram at a facility that sees many women with breast implants will decrease this risk. Always tell your imager that you have breast implants. Some imaging centers will take extra images called "implant displacement views" or "Eklund displacement views" to make sure they get a full picture of the breast tissue.
Rarely, mammograms can cause an implant to rupture. Your breast implants should encourage more diligent breast cancer screening, not less due to fear of rupture.