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How safe are silicone implants?


One of the most frequent questions Dr. Macadam receives from her patients considering breast augmentation, or breast reconstruction with implants, is whether silicone breast implants are safe. Many women are concerned or have heard rumors, for example, that the implants could rupture, leak into the chest, lead to connective tissue diseases, or even cause an increased risk of breast cancer. Thankfully, “few medical devices have been studied for their safety more rigorously than gel-filled breast implants,” state the authors of a comprehensive research study on this topic (McLaughlin et al., 2007). The short (and scientifically-grounded) answer: silicone breast implants are very safe.


Numerous research studies have been conducted to evaluate this, and two such studies are briefly summarized below for your review.


The first study reviewed dozens of research studies that had investigated concerns related to silicone breast implants causing cancer, affecting breast cancer detection, resulting in implant rupture, or leading to connective tissue disease, among other things. Reassuringly, the authors of this large review study report that “studies have been remarkably consistent in finding no evidence of increased breast cancer risk among women with breast implants” (McLaughlin et al., 2007). Similarly, it has been “unanimously concluded” that women with silicone breast implants do not exhibit an increased incidence of any other types of cancer, either (McLaughlin et al., 2007).


Another review study from 2007 examined the medical literature on silicone implants and connective tissue disease. While the authors do state that “any woman with silicone breast implants is at risk of some exposure to silicone,” they report that nearly all studies concluded there was no evidence to suggest an increased incidence of connective tissue disease among women with silicone breast implants (Holmich et al., 2007; McLaughlin et al., 2007). The authors state that the overall risk of implant rupture is largely related to the “age” of the implant, i.e. how long the implant has been in the breast (Holmich et al., 2007). For instance, a study using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) found the incidence of implant rupture to be “2.3 ruptures per 100 implant years” for modern implants, with more recent studies reporting an even lower incidence of rupture (Holmich et al., 2007).


The safety of silicone breast implants has been extensively studied by numerous researchers over many years. Dr. Macadam would be happy to address any of your additional concerns or hesitations during a consultation, so please feel free to contact us today to set-up your appointment! 

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