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Are Silicone Breast Implants Safe?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 21, 2024
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During the 1980s and 1990s, the safety of silicone breast implants became a matter of much debate. Several lawsuits, where women had been exposed to silicone through puncture or rupture of the silicone implants were won after women developed neurological or autoimmune conditions. These early wins led to more lawsuits and studies.

While many expected these studies would show silicone implants to be unsafe, in fact they did not. Even though no defined link between breast cancer, autoimmune disease, or neurological problems as a result of silicone exposure was found, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US ordered silicone implants off the markets in 1999. They were replaced by saline implants, which according to some, were inferior due to their "less natural" look and feel.

Extensive research conducted by scientists across the world, however, proved that silicone implants were relatively safe. The greatest risk factors involved in using them were scarring or hardening of the breast tissue. Beyond that, no research related to silicone exposure through implants could establish that they caused disease. As such, in 2006 silicone implants once again became legal for any woman who requested them in the US.

During the scare of the late 20th century, many women chose to have their silicone implants removed and replaced with saline implants. Some of these women have now gladly gone back to silicone implants, because they tend to have a more authentic breast feel and hold than do saline implants. Opinions on this vary however. Some find the new saline implants more preferable than silicone implants.

It should be stated, however, that placing either saline or silicone implants is major surgery. Even if silicone implants do not cause specific health hazards, surgery does. All people who undergo surgery face risks of complications due to infection, adverse reaction to anesthesia, and accidents during surgery. Getting silicone implants is thus not without health risk, although that health risk tends to be related most to the surgery and not to the implants.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a BeautyAnswered contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By anon339731 — On Jun 26, 2013

Breast implants leak. They bleed toxins into your body. Breast implants are made out of silicone. Even the ones filled with saline water have silicone shells that deteriorate into the body. They are poisonous. I am a victim of this. I am disabled and I have a ruined immune system. Because of this immune problem, fungus grows in my body. This fungus leads to cancer. I have pain all throughout my body. Need I say more?

By WGwriter — On May 02, 2008

It does seem a curiosity that so many women choose to alter their breast size, tending toward larger breasts. On the other hand, there are some very legitimate reasons to have implants. First, after a mastectomy, you may be want to achieve symmetry on both sides, or simply have breasts again if it was a double mastectomy. Second, some women do have significantly different breast sizes to begin with, which can cause some embarrassment. Lastly, women who have breast reductions may chose to get implants, and there can be some pretty good reasons to have breast reductions, like having significant back pain.

From a cosmetic perspective, I think it's every woman's choice to make, and though some may find the trend toward large breasts a curiosity, I certainly don't think it comparable to a circus freak show. Nor are tattoos and body piercing, which don't originate in America but were and still are ritually practiced in a variety of cultures.

By anon12205 — On May 01, 2008

What is the attraction of big breasts on women with little paternal instinct? Is it a message to potential mates that this female will be capable to feed many children? I think not and I find "bolt on" breasts unattractive and wasteful of resources better spent on real improvements. Every woman that I know who has had implants regretted getting them because of the scarring and discomfort, too. I guess you could get a big tattoo and lots of body piercings so when you show up at the family reunion everyone will think you have joined the circus or the freak show. lol

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a BeautyAnswered contributor, Tricia...
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