What Are Silicone Implants?

What You Need To Know About Silicone Implants?

Breast implants have been around since the late 19th century in several different forms. The very first silicone implants were made by the Dow Corning Corporation in 1961 for American plastic surgeons Thomas Cronin and Frank Gerow. These prostheses were filled with silicone gel and they proved to be very effective in breast augmentation surgeries. Overtime, the shape, size, variety, and anatomical presentation of these implants have changed considerably. Most companies have their own manufacturing methods and shapes. At present, there are five generations of silicone implants on the market.

• First Generation – The very first Cronin–Gerow Implant of 1961 consisted of a silicone rubber tear-drop shaped envelope filled with soft silicone gel. To prevent rotation, a Dacron patch was inserted in the breast implant shell.

• Second Generation – Better implants were produced in the 1970s. Functional and esthetic changes were incorporated to make the implants look better and feel more natural. As breast augmentation surgery became hugely popular, the demand for natural-feel implants increased considerably and manufacturers were happy to experiment. For example, the filler gel on the inside was changed to low-cohesion silicone and encased in a thinner covering. This improved the feel of the implant but resulted in a softer implant that ruptured or leaked frequently. These increased complications led to manufacturers withdrawing these implants from the market. However, manufacturers came up with polyurethane coated implants that resisted fracture and prevent scar formation. Another modification that occurred to second gen implants was the innovation of double lumen breast implant devices. This double-cavity implant was better but suffered a device failure that led to it being withdrawn from general use.

• Third Generation and Fourth Generation – These implants were the most successful models on the market. They used elastomer-coated shells that prevented gel bleeds and resisted implant rotation. It was during this generation that manufacturers came up with different anatomic models and shaped breast implants.

• Fifth Generation – Fifth generation implants are the most effective and useful. They contain semi-solid silicone gel that eliminates the problem of leakage or ruptures.

General Considerations
Silicone implants are made with medical-grade silicone. Most of these implants undergo extensive testing before they are released on the market. The implants are relatively safe but the FDA recommends you look at the Summary of Safety and Effectiveness Data or the SSED on each implant. As implants are produced by different companies, SSEDs can provide detailed information on implant use, warnings, precaution and issues related to the implant. You should have one to two weeks to review the information before you make a decision. Some surgeons also recommend the use of alternative implants as they are safer but the final decision will be your surgeon’s. As technology changes, there is a very good chance that silicone implants will change in shape, texture, and consistency. Newer materials could also result in silicone implants being phased out completely.