What Is Silicone?

Silicone breast implants are used to increase or reconstruct the breast

silicone breast implant
Westend61/Getty Images

Question: What Is Silicone?

Answer: Silicone is a polymer that appears in approximately half of all makeup, hair and skin, and underarm products. The gel form of silicone is used in bandages and dressings and breast, testicle, and pectoral implants. Silicone is widely used during ophthalmic procedures. It has been used to replace vitreous fluid after a vitrectomy, serve as intraocular lenses during a cataract procedure, as punctal plugs for dry eye surgery, and in treatment for retinal detachment.

Advantages of Silicone

Silicone has many advantages, including:

  • Stable at high temperature
  • Resistant to age
  • Resistant to sunlight
  • Resistant to moisture
  • Resistant to extremes in temperature

The most well-known use of silicone is as breast implants for breast surgery. Breast implants are medical devices implanted under the breast tissue or muscle of the chest to either increase breast size or help reconstruct the breast. Breast implants are either saline-filled or silicone gel-filled. Both types of implant have a silicone outer shell.

For patients with silicone gel-filled breast implants, it is recommended that they obtain an MRI screening for silent rupture three years after implantation and every two years afterwards. A silent rupture is the leakage of silicone from the implant into the tissue that forms around the implant. A ruptured silicone breast implant can cause breast pain or changes in the shape of the breast.

Risks of Silicone Breast Implants

The risks for silicone and saline breast implants are similar. They include:

To correct some of these complications, additional surgery may be required.

Continue Reading