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Availability of Silicone Implants Gives Breast Enhancement a Lift

Written by Robin Frank  |  02. May 2007

The latest statistics show cosmetic procedures are on the rise. Nearly 11.5 million cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical procedures were performed in the United States last year, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. The top surgical procedures include breast enhancement, liposuction and eyelid surgery. Botox led the pack of nonsurgical cosmetic procedures, followed by injectable fillers used to diminish lines and wrinkles and plump up lips. The total number of cosmetic procedures was up one percent from 2005 and a whopping 446 percent since 1997. For the first time ever, breast augmentation was the number one surgical procedure among women. Almost 384,000 women had the surgery in 2006. The increase in popularity may have something to do with a decision by the Food and Drug Administration last year to allow silicone gel breast implants back on the market. "The availability of these implants influenced some women who were considering breast augmentation," according to Dr. Lyle Leipziger, Chief of Plastic Surgery at North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center on Long Island. "A number of my patients were putting off breast enhancement until silicone implants became available again." Up until November of last year, implants containing saline, or salt water, were the only option for patients contemplating breast augmentation. "Silicone gel implants feel more natural, like normal tissue, than saline implants. And now, given the choice, many of my breast augmentation patients are opting for silicone implants," Dr. Leipziger said. The FDA restricted access to silicone breast implants for cosmetic procedures in 1992 due to safety concerns. Silicone implants were available to women having breast reconstruction following a mastectomy due to breast cancer and also for some limited cosmetic breast indications. After the ban, Dr. Leipziger was one of many plastic surgeons around the country involved in clinical studies to monitor women who received silicone implants for reconstruction over the course of many years. "Silicone breast implants have been studied more closely than any other medical device. The FDA decided to allow them back on the market based on extensive clinical research," he said. Silicone implants are approved for women ages 22 and older seeking breast augmentation. They are also available to patients of all ages who need reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy or if they have a developmental disorder affecting their breasts. "Studies show that breast augmentation and reconstruction have both physical and psychological benefits for women who have these procedures," Dr. Leipziger said. While women now have another option for breast augmentation, they should be prudent in choosing a plastic surgeon. Since the use of silicone implants was restricted from 1992 to November 2006, many plastic surgeons have had only limited, if any, experience with these types of implants. "Patients should make sure the surgeon has had sufficient training and experience in using silicone implants to ensure safety and a good outcome," Dr. Leipziger advises. Patients should also confirm that the doctor is board certified in plastic surgery. Anyone who would like more information is invited to call Dr. Leipziger's office in Great Neck: 516-465-8787.

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