Silicone gel breast implants have come a long way since their invention in the early 1960s by Frank Gerow and Thoman Cronin. In 1992, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suspended the use of these medical decives for elective breast augmentation (with the exception of purposes related to reconstruction, birth defects, replacement of ruptured implants, or for research purposes) due to safety concerns. After sufficient data had been collected on implant safety, these implants received FDA approval to return to the market in 2006. Manufacturers are now required to study any health consequences that may emerge in women who elect to have silicone implants.

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In modern silicone breast implants, the semi-solid silicone gel is surrounded by an outer shell made of silicone elastomer (rubber). The exact construction of a silicone implant varies depending on the manufacturer


American manufacturers include Allergan (including Inamed and Natrelle brands), Mentor Corp. (including the MemoryGel brand), and Sientra. Foreign makers include Eurosilicone (France) and Nagor (British Isles).


  • Available to women of any age for reconstructive procedures.
  • Made in a variety of sizes, textures, and profiles
  • May offer a more natural feel and look than saline implants.

Studies have shown that implants may help you feel more confident or enhance your self-esteem; however, before the procedure, your surgeon should advise you of reasonable expectations for your life post-surgery.

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  • Not an option for women who are younger than 22 having elective cosmetic surgery.
  • Cannot be filled after placement, which may require a larger incision than a saline implant.
  • If the implant ruptures, the result is a slow leak. For this reason, women with silicone implants are advised to get regular MRIs.
  • National average cost of silicone-gel filled breast implant augmentation is slightly higher than saline-filled breast implants.
  • May make breastfeeding more difficult or impossible.

Safety Considerations

While all surgeries come with risks of complications, in general, the FDA considers contemporary silicone breast implant safe medical devices.  Be sure to discuss risks and benefits of silicone breast implants with your surgeon so that you can make a decision that’s right for your personal needs.