Silicone breast implants provide a natural, feminine breast shape, fullness and contour following mastectomy. If you are considering an implant-based reconstruction, our experienced and board-certified plastic surgeons can help you as you choose implant type. To schedule a consultation with one of our surgeons, please call The Breast Center Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery at (720) 457-4461.
What Are Silicone Breast Implants?
Silicone breast implants have an outer shell that encases a silicone gel that highly resembles the look and feel of real fat. Women who prefer silicone breast implants favor the natural appearance they provide. These implants are not prone to rippling or wrinkling, as can sometimes be the case with saline implants. We most often recommend silicone gel implants because it provides patients with the most natural look and feel, and the breasts move much more like normal breast tissue does.
Just as is the case with saline breast implants, reconstruction with silicone implants is usually completed in three phases:
- Phase 1, in which a tissue expander is placed under the skin of the chest wall. These expanders gently stretch skin over time, creating pockets in which the implants will eventually be placed.
- Phase 2, in which the tissue expanders are removed. Any scar tissue they created will be removed as well. The breast implants are then placed into the expanded pockets. You will probably feel an immediate difference because the implants feel much more comfortable under your skin than the expanders. After the implants have been allowed time to heal (several months, typically), you will be ready for the third and final stage.
- Phase 3, in which shaping and revision techniques are used to perfect and enhance the results. Fat grafting may be recommended, which uses injections of your own fat cells to smooth out any surface irregularities or volume differences. Nipple reconstruction and areola pigmentation are also often performed, in order to re-create the appearance of a nipple-areola complex.
Breast implants can sometimes be placed at the same time as mastectomy is performed, in an immediate reconstruction. Then there is also the tiered procedure described above, as well as a delayed reconstruction that typically means a woman had a mastectomy several months, or even years, earlier. An advantage of an implant surgery is that it uses the same incisions as your mastectomy, so new incision locations are not created.
Silicone Breast Implant Safety and Effectiveness
Much of the public concern surrounding silicone implants in previous decades has been based on misinformation and rumor. Large studies have been completed and published in peer review journals establishing the safety of silicone gel implants.
Older silicone gel implants (like those used in the 1980s) were constructed of a liquid silicone with very thin shells. The current generation of silicone implants are made of cohesive gel, which does not leak or bleed through the silicone shell in the traditional sense as previous silicone implants have. When these implants are cut in half they appear much like a "gummy bear," leading many people to erroneously refer to these implants as a Gummy Bear Implant. The Gummy Bear Implant refers to an implant that is not yet FDA-approved for use in the United States and is technically different from the FDA-approved devices in that they are "form stable," making the implant firmer.
The cohesive silicone gel implants used today have actually been utilized in markets in Europe and Latin America for nearly a decade, and their safety and durability profiles are well established in the medical literature. This extraordinary safety and durability profile is what led to the FDA approval of this latest generation of cohesive gel silicone implants in 2006.
If you are interested in learning more about silicone breast implants for reconstructive surgery in the Denver area, please call The Breast Center Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery at (720) 457-4461.