The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently broke from its own scientific advisers and decided not to approve silicone breast implants. The FDA wants more information about what happens when breast implants break or leak. Silicone implants were mostly banned in 1992 over fears they caused autoimmune diseases like lupus. But women and doctors like silicone implants because they look and feel more natural than saline implants.
We asked our community to weigh in on the subject and tell us their experiences. (You can give us your opinion here.)
This is what some of them had to say. (Letters have been edited for clarity in some cases.)
Saline vs. silicone:
I had saline implants done by a top surgeon. I had them removed, as they felt exactly like what they were
I had a breast tumor removed that resulted in a partial mastectomy of about one-third of my left breast. One year later, I finally got my insurance company's approval for reconstruction. In order to reconstruct my left breast, it required that an implant also be placed in my right breast to make them symmetrical. Because of the location of the void in my left breast, which was in the underside, I went with the silicone implants that were placed behind the muscle.
Breast implants, whether silicone or saline, fail (wear out) after about seven years and need to be replaced. With silicone, the FDA requires that they be checked by a surgeon annually. My surgeon also showed me the difference in the coverings of the different implants. She explained that the silicone implants are placed behind the muscle, forming a "scar pocket" so that if they do leak, the silicone stays within that pocket. She told me I would be able to identify if that happens because I will feel a "burning sensation." I am not afraid of my implants at all. They feel and look very natural. Most people tell me they can't even tell I have implants. -- posted by Roberta, Lebanon, IN
I have wanted implants for years now, but I have always been scared because of the health risks. A friend of mine got silicone implants, and 10 months after she had them, one started leaking. There was no damage, and they just implanted another one. That was a real eye opener! After that incident, if I do decide to get them, it will be saline. I do believe that a woman should be able to choose if she wants them or not. If she wants to take the risk, let her. -- posted by C.H., Victoria, TX
Never had a problem:
I have had my silicone breast implants since 1988 and have never had one day's problem with them. I have never had any scar contractures form, nor have they shown any evidence of leakage. I don't have any autoimmune disorders, nor do I have lupus. I would get them all over again without ever thinking twice. I think getting implants is the best thing I've ever done for my self-image! -- posted by Lori, NC
Who, in her right mind, would want to go through an operation willingly just for vanity's sake? I'm 18 years old and I'm not a very busty girl, but I am happy the way I am. I think it doesn't matter if silicone implants are safe or not
Don't people get it?
I have had saline breast implants for one year, with no problems. Silicone scares me, but saline... well, not so much. To those of you who think that women should cultivate their minds instead of getting breast implants, you just don't understand. I have a bachelor's degree, a master's degree and a Ph.D. My mind is flourishing, and finally I have breasts to match! If you are happy with your tiny boobs, fine
Speaking from experience, I don't see that there is a problem with silicone. Yes, I do have them, and I went from a small B cup to a small C cup about 18 months ago. I feel a lot more confident about the way I look and have had no problems with the implants. I had the most wonderful surgeon, and although there was a lot of pain for the first couple of weeks, it was well worth it. The silicone implants I have are not liquid; they are crystallized, similar to the inside of a jelly bean, so they don't leak and it would take quite a deal of pressure for them to break. In fact, as my surgeon told me, the only case he has had of one breaking is a woman who was in a serious head-on car accident. -- posted by Tonya, San Diego, CA
What the heck is wrong with small breasts?
I am small-breasted and also very fit and health-conscious. I considered getting implants years ago when I was with a lover who preferred larger breasts, but I arrived at the conclusion that rather than go through surgery and put my own health at risk, I'd find a partner who likes and prefers small breasts
If we decide that we, as women, want them, it should be our right. It should NOT be anyone else's right to say what we, as women, can and can't have. If I want them, I should be able to get them! -- posted by mydamomas, Los Banos, CA
I find it very strange that the FDA allows silicone implants for breast reconstruction, but not for cosmetic purposes. If the implants are so unsafe, why do they allow them to be used on women who have had cancer? I believe that women have the right to choices, and the right to be informed. I live in Canada, where silicone cohesive gel implants (which I have) are legal. I have had these implants for 18 months and am very pleased. This was not a decision that I took lightly. I did a lot of research on implants, specifically saline vs. silicone. I decided that the risks (inherent in any type of surgery, cosmetic or not) were well worth the results. I admire women who are confident with their bodies and do not believe that "bigger is better" when it comes to breasts. My decision was based on my body image, my feelings and my history, and as such should not be judged by anyone else. -- posted by vevelov1
I have had saline implants since 1997, and I had a lot of problems in the beginning. I've had capsular contracture since the day I had my surgery. I know that silicone implants look and feel more natural, but I went to a doctor who uses saline. I regret getting saline implants and now I would never want silicone either. I know a lot of women who had their silicone implants removed and had them replaced by saline implants instead. Do your research first
FDA's political decision:
Let women choose for themselves. We women are not as stupid as you think we are. The FDA's response was based on politics rather than science. I am very disappointed. If silicone is safe enough for a woman who is having reconstructive surgery after cancer, it's certainly safe enough for me! I want silicone breast implants, and I'd prefer not to travel to some third-world country to get them. I don't expect implants will increase my self- esteem. I just know that I would enjoy my breasts a lot more if they were larger. I am always for improving myself, and I believe in being/doing/having the best that I can in every way and maximizing my enjoyment of life while I still have it. Now that I am hurtling toward middle age, I am realizing that life is short and I need to make the most of everything. I've always wanted to have larger breasts, and I only have this one life to experience them. Let me at the good ones. Bring back the silicone implants. After all, women will still have the option of getting saline. -- posted by ambrosialdelight, New York, NY