Are Breast Implants Safe? – Large Study Attempts to Reveal Answer


    Largest Study on Breast Implants

    A lot of women use breast implants, but there are always concerns of safety. It was not long ago when silicone breast implants were banned in the USA, before being approved again. A new large scale study was created to study the long term efficacy and safety of breast implants.The researchers analyzed data on nearly 100,000 patients between 2007 and 2009-10. More than 80,000 patients received silicone implants; the rest received implants filled with sterile saline solution.

    The research is ongoing, however some results are quite clear at this time – silicone implants, while on the whole very safe, are associated with higher rates of certain rare complications such rheumatoid arthritis, melanoma, scleroderma, and
    Sjogren syndrome.

    Rare Side Effects Increased

    The rare side effects associated with breast implants may seem scary, but they are still relatively rare. Compared to the general population, the study found that women with silicone breast implants have a :

    8.14 times higher incidence of Sjogren syndrome 

    7 times higher incidence of scleroderma 

    5.96  times higher incidence of rheumatoid arthritis 

    4.5 times higher incidence of stillbirth

    3.71 times higher incidence of melanoma


    Silicone vs Saline Implants

    Implant rupture and capsular contractures are 2 known side effects of breast implants. The study found that implant rupture is higher for saline  implants (2.5% vs. 0.5%, P < 0.001), and capsular contracture higher for silicone implants (5.0% vs. 2.8%, P < 0.001).

    Conclusion: What does it all mean? 

    The study, while being the largest, has its limitations. The researchers emphasize that their results are inconclusive, due to limitations inherent in the use of postapproval databases — including the lack of complete patient information and individual follow-up data.

    Another thing to note that although the risks of these diseases and conditions are increased in the study, the absolute rates are still very low. Breast implants are, on the whole very safe. Temporary side effects of surgical breast augmentation, such as bruising, pain are still the most common. Implant rupture, while well known, is relatively uncommon.

    Speak to your plastic surgeon to learn more about the pros and cons of surgical breast augmentation.

    Meanwhile, here is a short video to illustrate what may happen when an implant ruptures.