I'm really concerned about the toxic load a silicone implant can put on the body over the years. Should I be?

Is this a real concern and are there any proactive measures one can take to protect the body from these chemicals?

Doctor Answers 10

Silicone Breast Implant Toxicity

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

In the period until 1990, manufacturers of breast implants sought to produce a more natural feeling implant by making the silicone shell of the implant thinner and thinner.  Unfortunately, this resulted in the liquid silicone within the implant leaking through the shell and causing (in some patients) massive exposures to liquid silicone.  The liquid silicone travelled to lymph nodes and beyond, and could never be removed entirely.  Studies of these women (now 30 years later) have demonstrated no evidence of systemic disease arising from the silicone exposure.   

Modern implants are designed using cohesive silicone and thicker shells, vastly reducing the quantity of silicone exposure relative to the old implants.  We can't predict what we will discover tomorrow, but the evidence so far is that silicone toxicity arising from modern breast implants should not be a concern.  That said, as 'new and improved' implants arrive in the marketplace, these implants must be studied carefully before assuming that they too are safe.

Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Silicone is safe!

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Hello and thank you for the question. We get asked this often. The truth is that silicone in numerous forms has been used in medicine, and medical devices for decades since WWII. Every injection needle used is coated in silicone so it easily can puncture the skin. Toothpaste is about 50% silicone. There is no way you brush your teeth everyday without swallowing a little silicone. 

The truth is that there really is no risk. Just like being afraid of the dark, fear comes from the unknown. The more you know about the true risks real science behind this, the more you will realize that there is really nothing to be afraid of. 

In the 1990's there was a concern that the implants were causing women to become ill. That fear, without any real data or science caused the uproar and ban of silicone implants during that time. In the following decade, the implants were studied ad nauseum and found to NOT cause the autoimmune problems that were initially claimed. The data was so overwhelming, that the FDA ended the study prematurely saying that it was abundantly clear the implants did not cause any health risk. The FDA NEVER cuts a study short, so you must know that the data was extremely obvious. The truth is that about 2% of american women will get an autoimmune illness, with or without implants. if you line up 100 women with implants, 2 will get sick from autoimmune disease. If you randomly pick 100 women without implants, 2 of them will get an autoimmune disease in their lifetime. NO DIFFERENCE. 

As a result today, you no longer see hundreds or even thousands of people protesting silicone implants in washington DC. like you did in the 1990's. In a similar thought, in the 1960's you would see protestors line up around nuclear power plants. Today, almost none. Why? because the safety record of nuclear power plants is near spotless. Fear causes protests. Science and data take away fear. Every year, 30,800 people in the USA die from car accidents. Number of people who die from nuclear power accidents in the US? Zero. 

Hope that answers your question. Having said that, all surgery carries some risk. There is no risk-free surgery. Breast augmentation carries few risks but you should be aware of them before moving forward with surgery.  

You should seek consultations with several board certified plastic surgeons in your area before making any final decisions.

As always it is best to be healthy, no smoking, and to make sure any health care concerns you have are managed by your primary care doctor.

Best to you

Bennett Yang, MD
Rockville Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Silicone implants

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Silicone implants have been probably the most studied product in the FDA history. There is tremendous amounts of strong research looking at the safety of this product.  They are not toxic, they are inert.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Silicone toxicity

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Thank you for your questions. After several years of detailed studies, the FDA has found silicone and saline implants to be safe. The older implants (which are no longer used) had a problem of silicone leaking. It is best to see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon who can in person examine you, take key measurements and go over with you your specific aesthetic goals. It is important to see and feel the actual implants in person (silicone and saline) as there are several key differences and some similarities in the types, shapes and brands of breast implants.

Benjamin J. Cousins M.D.
Board Certified Plastic Surgeon

Benjamin J. Cousins, MD
Miami Beach Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Silicone Safety

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Silicone breast implants are among the safest medical devices in use today. These devices are also among the most rigorously studied and tested medical devices currently being used in the U.S. today.

Following the FDA moratorium on the use of silicone gel filled breast in 1992, “cohesive gel implants” were introduced to the market. How do these devices differ from their predecessors? The silicone gel of a cohesive gel implant is firmer (via the addition of proprietary cross-linker). The greater the cross-linking the firmer the device will feel. The result is a filling that doesn’t leak when the shell is compromised in the way that a traditional liquid does. This quality is best illustrated when cutting a device in half…it doesn’t yield a gooey mess but instead two stable halves. 

Additionally, silicone is biologically inert. There has been no demonstrated link between silicone and the commonly cited myth of autoimmune disease.

As always, discuss your concerns with a board certified plastic surgeon.

Donovan Rosas, MD
Kissimmee Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

If you have been living in a modern society, you already have silicone in your body.

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

there is no proof that silicone in the body is harmful. The origin of this farce was in the 1980s when FDA investigators asked if it was a problem. At the time, breast implant manufactures had not done safety studies to prove that it was safe because it was not required. As a result, the public and the media assumed that it was harmful. Since that time, multiple studies have been performed  to show that there is no adverse effect of silicone in the body.  Silicone is a lubricant. If you use anti-perspirant, you have inhaled fine particles of silicone into your lungs as a result.  There is more silicone in infant breast formula and then there is in the breastmilk of women with ruptured silicone implants.  If you don't believe anything that I've said, then just use saline implants. It's not worth losing sleep over it! Good luck. 

Robert S. Houser, DO
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Silicone implants and body toxicity?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

    Silicone implants are one of the most studied medical devices in history with countless attempts to discredit them.  Despite this, the overwhelming body of scientific evidence  does not show any toxicity from the implants or the silicone.  Silicone is a compound found in artificial joints, used to coat medications, used in infant pacifiers, used in heart valves, and even put in the eye for retinal detachments.  I would not worry about silicone but if you are still concerned, there are always saline implants as an alternative. Discuss with your plastic surgeon.

John Zavell, MD, FACS
Toledo Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

I'm really concerned about the toxic load a silicone implant can put on the body over the years. Should I be?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

All studies we have so far show that silicone implants are safe and the small amount of silicone that bleeds through the shell is essentially inert. Aside from making sure to only have reputable implants put in by a board-certified surgeon there is nothing specifically you can do. If this is really a concern for you then you should possibly consider getting saline implants. Hope that helps! 

Mathew A. Plant, MD, FRCSC
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

I'm really concerned about the toxic load a silicone implant can put on the body over the years. Should I be?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}


Thank you for your question.It is important for you to understand that you don’t always need a breast implant for breast augmentation. As it was also mentioned above you can also get bigger and natural breasts with Cihantimur Fat Transfer method. In this method we use own fat tissue of the patient in order to increase the size of the breast. Since this tissue is your own tissue there is no risk for any adverse effects. It is safe and fast operation that yields natural results without any incision.

Bulent Cihantimur, MD
Turkey Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 102 reviews


{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Don't worry about the silicone!  We use silicone to treat your scars after surgery...look at your deodorant-it has silicone in it.

William Dascombe, MD
Savannah Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

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.