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Silicone was first used as the filler material in breast implant procedures in the early 1960s. However, by 1992 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) imposed a ban on the use of silicone implants amidst claims that a variety of disease could result if the implants were to rupture and the silicone circulated through the body. These claims were not substantiated by the FDA, but nevertheless, the imposed this ban. There are a few exceptions in which the use of silicone implants is permissible.
Silicone implants were more popular until the ban was issued by the FDA in 1992. At this time, saline implants became increasingly popular. Saline implants are essentially silicone shells which are filled with a saline substance which closely resembles other fluids in the body. Therefore, there is less concern if the implants rupture because the implants will simply deflate and the saline solution will be absorbed into the body.
Many patients choose silicone implants because they tend to produce a more natural look and feel. Saline implants do not closely resemble natural breast tissue, but because they are assumed to be safer, many patients and surgeons are willing to sacrifice a more natural look for saline implants.