According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, a total of 316,848 breast augmentations were performed in 2011. Of those procedures, 69% used silicone implants. In 2011, Orange County plastic surgeon Dr. Daniel Mills used silicone implants in 90% of his breast augmentation cases. Although a safe and popular option, Dr. Mills says silicone implants need to be closely observed and tended to over the years to ensure no breakage or leakage has occurred. In the late 70's and early 80's, implant manufacturers advertised silicone breast implants as lifetime devices. Currently, they are no longer considered lifetime devices, and according to Dr. Mills, they should be evaluated on an annual basis to make sure they are not broken or leaking. He adds that at 10 years, patients should consider exchanging them as most implants remain intact for roughly 10-15 years.
An experienced surgeon, Dr. Mills has been performing breast augmentations at his Orange County plastic surgery practice since 1988, and says he believes taking preventative measures in regards to the lifetime of silicone implants can save both time and money in the future. If a break occurs, he says patients will often be initially unaware anything has happened. Once a leak forms, the body begins to detect the increase in silicone and will start to wall it off, forming a late capsular contracture which is the creation of scar around the implant. The body uses the scar to prevent the spread of silicone to other areas. Once a capsular contracture has formed, Dr. Mills says the scarring will need to be removed in order to insert a new implant and achieve the most aesthetically-pleasing results. He adds that exchanging the implant before a break occurs and scar forms can result in a much simpler exchange procedure and softer implants.
Patients who proactively exchange their implants often experience simpler post-surgery recovery periods since the need for any scar buildup removal can be greatly reduced by implant exchange. Additionally, he says although breast implants can seem to still be okay after 10 years, getting them checked by a surgeon is extremely important in determining whether or not a break or leak has gone unnoticed.
Women can have their silicone breast implants checked in a variety of ways. Dr. Mills says the FDA suggests patients should schedule an MRI to detect any breaks or leaks; however, he has found in his own practice that when he reviews a mammogram in conjunction with a physical exam, his accuracy in detecting a leak or break approaches the accuracy of a more expensive MRI. He says the near future will hold the opportunity for implants to be checked using high-definition ultrasound, but as of now he feels a woman's account of changes to her breasts can be an excellent method for determining an implant rupture.
When deciding where to get a breast augmentation or silicone implant exchange, Dr. Mills says patients should always consult a plastic surgeon who is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. RealSelf.com survey data recently showed that patients who chose an American Board Certified Plastic Surgeon were 15% more satisfied than those who did not. He says surgeons meeting these criteria have a special interest and do a majority of their work in aesthetic surgery.
About Daniel Mills, M.D.
A graduate of the Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Dr. Daniel Mills is the founder and medical director of the Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Institute. He focuses on cosmetic breast surgeries while utilizing the most advanced technology and techniques for all treatments and procedures. Dr. Mills belongs to numerous medical organizations including the American Board of Plastic Surgeons, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, and the California Society of Plastic Surgeons among others. He currently serves as Secretary for the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Devoted to continuing his education in the field of plastic surgery, he is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
The Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Institute is located at 31852 Pacific Coast Hwy, Ste. 401, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, and can be reached via phone at 949-793-9375. Dr. Mills can also be contacted online at orangecountybreast.com or facebook.com/danmillsmd.
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