Medical Treatments

Do Silicone Breast Implants Leak?

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Reader Question:

I am thinking of getting breast implants. Do silicone implants leak? If they do, does the silicone go all over my body and cause problems? Are the newer gummie bear ones any better than the older silicones? How do you decide to use saline or silicone implants?

Silicone gel implants can leak and they can also leech gel residue. The newer generation cohesive gels (also called “gummie bear implants”) have a “jello” consistency, so they really shouldn’t “leak” as the gel isn’t a liquid.

Leeching refers to the tendency for all gel implants to kinda weep smaller amounts of silicone into the tissues around them even through intact implant casings. This may spread the gel somewhat over the years, but the real question is how much for the newer “gummie bear” implants. The answer is that we won’t know for years. It takes 10-20 years to study something like this. I tell my breast implant patients that newer generation silicone gel implants are probably safer than the older ones, but the bottom line is that they likely represent at least a little more risk than the saline-filled version. We just don’t know how much yet. The question of which implant to use is the patient’s choice after a discussion of risk versus benefit. Some patients do not mind the risk and others stick with saline implants.

With age, older generation silicone implants were associated with hardening of the breasts (capsular contracture.) The hope is that the newer ones will do this to a lesser extent.

Best Regards,

John Di Saia MD

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