Breast augmentation is growing more popular each year. With more than 300,000 women undergoing the procedure in 2008, it's important that implants—the medical devices inserted either under breast tissue or the chest muscle to enlarge the breasts—be safe. But are they? And what do you need to know if you're considering having this procedure done?

As of now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved as safe four breast implants from two separate companies for use in breast augmentation or reconstruction after mastectomy. Two of the implants are saline filled and two are silicone-gel filled. The FDA considers any other breast implants investigational devices, and women must be enrolled in a clinical study in order to have access to them.

While many women who receive breast implants are happy with them and have no problems, there definitely are risks involved in this type of surgery. They include:

  • Hardening of the area around the implant, known as capsular contracture
  • Changes in sensation of the breast and nipple
  • Rupture
  • Migration of the silicone in silicone-filled implants
  • Breast pain
  • Potential problems breastfeeding
  • Potential difficulty having a mammogram (and its attendant risk of rupture)
  • The possibility that if you decide to have your implants removed, your breasts may never look the way they did before your implant surgery

It's important to know that breast implants are not permanent. If you get them, chances are you'll eventually need additional surgeries due to rupture, breast pain, hardening, or cosmetic abnormalities such as asymmetry, wrinkling or rippling. If you get silicone-filled implants, you'll need an MRI three years after your surgery to make sure they haven't ruptured, as silicone implants can rupture without symptoms. Rupture in saline-filled implants is more obvious, as the implant deflates. Your best bet if you experience a rupture is removal of the implant, but it's not always necessary. While silicone-filled implants do contain platinum, the FDA has determined that they are safe, as the platinum poses a minimal health risk during a leak.



Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration,