Chicago Plastic Surgeon Discusses the Popularity and Safety of Silicone Breast Implants Three Years after FDA Approval

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In November 2006, after a 14-year moratorium, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of silicone breast implants for most breast augmentation and reconstruction procedures. Chicago breast augmentation surgeon, Dr. Brian Braithwaite, MD shares his thoughts on their safety and effectiveness.

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The vast majority of my breast augmentation patients choose silicone implants… My patients are extremely happy with their silicone implants and do not regret their choosing silicone over saline.

In 1992, the United States Food and Drug Administration made the controversial decision to ban the use of silicone breast implants. Citing concerns that silicone implants could potentially cause a variety of complications, the FDA took the implants off the market until their safety could be determined. Even though silicone implants continued to be used in European countries and other parts of the world, silicone breast implants were prohibited in the United States for the next thirteen years. Finally, after numerous studies and clinical trials, the FDA approved the use of silicone breast implants in 2006.

Since that time, many plastic surgeons have begun to offer their breast augmentation patients a choice between traditional saline or silicone implants. Brian Braithwaite, MD, a plastic surgeon in Chicago, says that silicone breast implants are very popular at his North Side-area practice. “The vast majority of my breast augmentation patients choose silicone implants… My patients are extremely happy with their silicone implants and do not regret their choosing silicone over saline.”

Although Dr. Braithwaite personally feels that silicone implants are superior to saline implants, he says he presents information on both types to patients in an objective manner and encourages them to make their own informed decisions. “This is the essence of informed consent and I think it is very important…I also allow patients to hold both styles of implants, and they can feel the differences themselves.”

Dr. Braithwaite says it’s easy to understand why many of his patients considering breast implants in Chicago decide to go with silicone implants. “Silicone implants are softer and feel more natural than saline implants…Silicone feels more like real breast tissue and, because of this, the implant edges are less likely to be felt or seen.” Dr. Braithwaite says all of his patients agree that silicone implants feel more natural. He also says many patients whose breasts were previously augmented with saline implants have later decided to have those implants replaced with the silicone-based material. “To date, all ‘my’ patients have been very pleased with their decisions and no patient has had any regrets about the switch to silicone. Virtually all these patients are amazed by the improved look and feel of their new implants.”

But the big question in many minds is how safe silicone breast implants really are. Dr. Braithwaite says with the FDA’s approval after so many years of intense study and clinical trials, he believes they are safe. “Silicone implants are perfectly safe, and today’s implants are even better than those of the past.”

Dr. Braithwaite says there are risks to every surgical procedure, and there are degrees of risk to both silicone and saline breast implants. He says he explains all the risks and benefits of both types of implants to each patient and lets them decide which implant they want based on detailed information. Dr. Braithwaite says he is so convinced of the safety of silicone breast implants, he’s not sure why the FDA moratorium lasted for so many years. “Silicone implants were never taken off the market in Europe and Canada and those patients benefitted from the availability of silicone implants while American women were limited in their options. ‘There was an’ absence of any scientific evidence that there was ever anything wrong with these devices in the first place.”

With that in mind, Dr. Braithwaite says any breast augmentation procedure is a major decision, and patients considering it should be sure to ask any questions, do thorough research, and have all of their concerns addressed before making that decision.

About Dr. Brian Braithwaite
At his practice offering plastic surgery in Chicago, Dr. Brian Braithwaite performs surgical and non-surgical aesthetic enhancement procedures for the breasts, body, and face. He is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, and an active member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

A graduate of the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago, Dr. Braithwaite completed post-graduate training in plastic surgery at the University of Louisville. His career includes joining the United States navy as a flight surgeon, a tour with the U.S. MarineCorps, and a residency at Keesler Medical Center, Keesler Air Force Base. After joining the Bethesda Naval Medical Center outside Washington, D.C as a staff plastic surgeon, Dr. Braithwaite rose to the rank of Commander and became Chief of Plastic Surgery. While at Bethesda, he performed breast reconstruction procedures for the majority of cancer patients at the hospital’s Breast Care Center.

Women interested in breast enlargement in Chicago can contact Dr. Braithwaite’s practice by phone at (312) 361-8108. His offices are located at 60 East Delaware Place, Suite 1400, Chicago, Illinois, 60611.

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