Nearly three years ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of silicone implants for breast augmentation procedures in women over the age of 22, and breast reconstruction procedures for patients of any age. The FDA’s decision capped a controversy that spanned more than a decade, and one plastic surgeon in Valencia, California says, while silicone implants are safe, there are still disadvantages.
(Vocus) November 13, 2009 -- In 1991, the FDA pulled silicone breast implants off the market for further study of their safety. Over the next 14 years, the implants would become the subjects of intense research, clinical trials, and fierce controversy. In 2006, the FDA approved them for use, and plastic surgeons across the country have experienced an uptick in procedures involving silicone breast implants, as opposed to their saline counterparts.
Dr. Marc Lussier is the medical director of Town Center Surgery, a practice in Valencia, California offering plastic surgery to Bakersfield and the surrounding region. He says, although the ratio between silicone and saline breast implant procedures he performs is about even, the demand for silicone implants at his Valencia Bakersfield area breast augmentation practice is increasing – possibly due to the fact that silicone offers a softer, more natural feel and appearance. “Saline is more artificial-looking, not as soft. I tend to use saline in younger women who haven’t had children. I use more silicone in women who have had children and/or need breast lifts.”
Dr. Lussier says he believes silicone breast implants are safe; however, there are some disadvantages. “In terms of systemic disease, ‘silicone breast implants’ are very safe. In terms of local complications, there is a higher incidence of capsular contracture, more frequent operations, more costs. With saline implants, patients are more comfortable with this product due to the bad press silicone has had over the years.”
Capsular contracture is the formation of scar tissue around the implant, resulting in a hardened feel and appearance. The condition can be treated with surgery. Dr. Lussier performs a number of different plastic surgery procedures, including breast augmentation, breast implant revision and he says, with any surgical procedure, there are risks of complications – and that includes breast implants of both types. Dr. Lussier says the best thing for patients to do is to have thorough and detailed conversations with their plastic surgeon, exploring all aspects of procedures and getting all of their questions answered so they can make the most educated decision about what’s right for them.
In terms of preference, Dr. Lussier says he has treated patients who have had revision breast augmentation surgery and replaced their original saline breast implants with silicone, which gives them a unique perspective to be able to compare both types of implants. “They much prefer the silicone if there are no problems with capsular contracture.”
Dr. Lussier says the main problem he’s seen with silicone implants is when to exchange them. He says patients should pay attention to the implant manufacturer’s warranty and also follow up periodically with their plastic surgeon. “I usually advise patients to get an MRI at 9 years because this is within the warranty period of the manufacturer. They should plan to exchange them in 10-12 years ‘after implantation,’ pending more information ‘from the FDA’.”
Overall, Dr. Lussier says that silicone breast implants get a satisfactory response from his patients, particularly those who have experienced both silicone and saline implants. But Dr. Lussier says there are still disadvantages to silicone, and patients should always weigh those along with the potential benefits. “’Silicone implants’ are an excellent and perhaps better option, but they are more costly, and have a higher maintenance cost. In automotive terms, it is the difference between a nice car and a sexy sports car. The latter is more expensive to drive, but it’s more fun.”
About Dr. Marc Lussier
Marc Lussier, MD, FACS is certified by the American Board of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, and the Los Angeles Society of Plastic Surgeons. Dr. Lussier is also a Diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgery and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He is the Medical Director of Town Center Surgery in Valencia, California, a fully equipped plastic surgery facility certified by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC).
For more information on breast enlargement and breast implant procedures at Town Center Surgery, the practice can be reached at 24510 Town Center Drive, Suite 180, Valencia, CA, 91355 – (661) 260-3021 – www.lussiermd.com.
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