Breast Augmentation

There are two general types of breast implants available in the U.S. — saline and silicone. Both consist of a silicone outer shell; the difference is what’s inside the implants.

  • Saline implants are filled with saline or sterile saltwater.
  • Silicone breast implants are filled with silicone gel.

    Silicone Breast Implants

    Silicone breast implants were first introduced in 1962. During the 1980s, the popularity of silicone breast implants surged, but so did accounts of their supposed risks. Many people claimed there was a link between ruptured silicone gel implants and a greater risk of immunological disorders (such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other conditions). Some women reported that their symptoms went away after the implants were removed. Some filed lawsuits against implant manufacturers.

    While no studies established a firm connection, the FDA looked into the issue and, in 1992, restricted the use of silicone breast implants to women having reconstruction after surgery for breast cancer. For the next 14 years, women who wanted breast augmentation had to use saline breast implants.