Thoughts on mold and illnesses?

What are you thoughts about all these cases of silicon toxicity and mold found on the valves of saline implants? Was in love with the ideal implant option but I realize there's no safer choice.

Doctor Answers 4

Mold in Breast Implants? Never Seen a Case!

Thank you for your question about mold and saline breast implants.  Although this type of infection has been reported, it is extremely rare!   In having performed over 5,000 breast augmentation cases, I have never seen a case.  Bacterial infection would be more likely, and even then, bacterial infection requiring removal of a breast implant is reported in the literature as well below 1%.If you elect to have a saline breast augmentation, I would select a doctor who is using the latest techniques.   I would select an incision type which is more sterile (inframammary) and a doctor who uses a closed system for inflating saline in the implants (a closed system).  In this way, you will be further reducing your risks of surgery and creating a very safe, and pleasing improvement.   Best wishes!


Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Mold in saline mplants

The risk of mold in saline implants is way over exaggerated.  I have NEVER seen mold in an implant nor have I spoken with a plastic surgeon who has seen it.  It is extremely rare and would not use it as a criteria in selecting saline implants.

Ronald J. Edelson, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Thoughts on Silicone Toxicity

Can Implants Make you Sick? I think you have to answer this question in two ways:
  1. First, to address the perceived silicone toxicity by the public/patients which has not been substantiated by scientific studies and would be rare if it occurred at all.
  2. Secondly you have to address if they have ever been proven to be toxic.
The first question is easy to answer: there is no known toxicity from silicone gel breast implants. It has been studied by the FDA for more than three decades to establish its safety. Silicone is the most common material used in medical devices/implants. Examples include shunts that go from the brain to the abdomen (for hydrocephalus) which are left in for a lifetime, artificial finger joints, syringes, IVs, catheters (including ones that go next to the heart), surrounding pacemakers, and even oral anti-gas tablets.
The one possible exception may by the PIP implant made in France (generally not available in the USA). Most of the concerns about the PIP implant were about the use of non-medical silicone and manufacturing problems, and do not relate to implants used in the United States by board-certified plastic surgeons. This is not to say that breast implants, like any implant, can have problems; they may have to be removed and are not meant to last a life time. Common reasons for replacement include: capsular contracture, rupture, infection, change in breast size, and pain—but not for toxicity.
To answer the perceived toxicity of Silicone by the general public—this is quite a different matter.
Breast implants have been around since the 1960s. About 15 years ago Connie Chung ran an exposé, Face to Face with Connie Chung, claiming silicone implants were responsible for different health problems. This led to lawsuits, a huge windfall for lawyers, and the subsequent ban on silicone implants for first-time breast augmentation patients went into effect. They were always available for breast reconstruction (e.g. after mastectomy) and replacement of existing silicone breasts. Also, please note that saline implants are still covered by a silicone envelope.
Soon after, a ban on silicone implant use became worldwide. This lasted for years until more than 100 clinical studies showed that breast implants aren’t related to cancer, lupus, scleroderma, other connective tissue diseases, or the host of other problems they were accused of causing.
June 1999, The Institute of Medicine released a 400-page report prepared by an independent committee of 13 scientists. They concluded that although silicone breast implants may be responsible for localized problems such as hardening or scarring of breast tissue, implants do not cause any major diseases such as depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, etc.
The Institute of Medicine is part of the National Academy of Sciences, the nation’s most prestigious scientific organization.
Eventually, a federal judge dismissed/rejected the lawsuits, declaring them junk science and ended for the most part the barrage of lawsuits. This led to the present reintroduction of silicone implants years ago and their approval by the FDA. Interestingly enough, most of the rest of the world reintroduced them many years prior to the United States. Dr. Larry Nichter
I happened to be in private practice in Orange County, Californiaduring this time of confusion by the public and media. My office was deluged with patients, mostly new ones having had surgery elsewhere, believing they were being poisoned by their breast implants. Most of my consults lasted about an hour and were spent trying to convince patients that they did not need surgery. In fact, I told them that they would not even have to pay for the consultation if they decided to not have surgery. Most of the patients had no problems but were simply gripped with general panic, mass hysteria, and fear from all the media hype and false information. Despite my strong advice to not remove their implants, many insisted upon that action. As a footnote, the vast majority of these patients that I removed implants eventually returned to my office for silicone gel replacement.

Mold in implants

Having mold grow inside of saline implants is highly unlikely and very rare. I have never seen a case in my practice but it can happen. There are two ways that saline is put into implants. This first method is an open fill system where sterile saline is poured in a sterile container on the surgical field and is exposed to air. It is then drawn up via a syringe and injected into the implants. Even though the solution and field are sterile, it is the exposure to air that can lead to mold formation in the implant. The second and more common method is to use a close filling system where the saline goes directly from a closed IV bottle into the implant through connected tubing. This method is more sterile since the saline is not exposed to the air, highly minimizing the risk of mold formation. If the implant is placed correctly and using sterile technique the risk of mold formation is extremely rare. Make sure that you have procedures completed by a surgeon that is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery to further minimize this risk.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.