I have recently added a new page to my web site entitled “The Safety of Silicone Breast Implants – The Science Behind the Politics”. The journey to assure women access to safe and effective silicone breast implants has been a long and complicated one, fueled by emotions and politics on both sides of the conflict. This month, Sientra, a company that manufactures breast implants in Brazil, received an approvable letter from the FDA for their round and shaped silicone gel implants. This means that a third manufacturer will enter the US implant market after almost twenty years. It appears likely, as well, that American women will also finally see the FDA grant approvals to the two other leading international manufacturers of form stable implants; Allergan’s style 410, and Mentor’s CPG, both 5th generation shaped silicone gel implants.
The availability of modern, safe, silicone gel implants has not come without a struggle. Controversy over the long term safety of silicone breast implants, as well as the fundamental right of a well informed patient to choose breast reconstruction and cosmetic breast augmentation is still on the front line. The National Organization of Women remains a staunch opponent to a women’s right to obtain silicone breast implants, and essentially opposes all breast augmentation and most breast reconstructions. They believe that plastic surgeons and implant manufacturers thrive solely because we live in a culture, “based on cultivating women’s insecurities about their bodies.” The National Organization of Women clearly has developed their own agenda, and has not kept pace with the motivations of the majority of American women. If they truly cared about a women’s access to safe and effective breast implants, they would acknowledge the robust scientific literature already collected, and in turn, support patient and physician education. The best way to reduce complications and improve outcomes for women is to support the manufacturers who innovate, as well as the plastic surgeons who educate.
In 1876, William Welch, the founder of Johns Hopkins Medical School said, “In the end our preconceived beliefs must change and adapt themselves. The facts of science will never change.” Women should not be swayed by the media or vocal political groups that may have very different agendas than their own. Women seeking breast augmentation should always strive to become educated, seek out an experienced board certified plastic surgeon, and be aware of all of their breast implant options. Their decision to proceed with breast reconstruction or cosmetic augmentation should be made on evidence-based science, not politics and emotions.