The Sad Truth About Silicone Injections

Silicone is derived from silicon, a semi-metallic or metal-like element that in nature combines with oxygen to form silicon dioxide, or silica. Beach sand, crystals, and quartz are silica; in fact, silica is the most common substance on earth. Heating silica with carbon at a high temperature can produce silicon. Further processing can convert the silicon into a long chemical chain, or polymer, called silicone – which can be a liquid, gel, or rubbery substance.

Various silicones are used in lubricants and oils, as well as in silicone rubber. Silicone can be found in many common household items, such as polishes, suntan and hand lotion, antiperspirants, soaps, processed foods, waterproof coatings, and chewing gum. The FDA has approved many medical devices made of silicone, including replacement heart valves, and now the re-entry of silicone gel-filled breast implants. Solid silicone implants are commonly used for chin and malar augmentation, and have been used in nasal, chest, and calf augmentation, as well as in joint replacement and tendon reconstruction

Liquid silicone was developed in 1963 and used for augmentation of the breast and face prior to the development of a purer grade of injectable silicone, which was available for investigational purposes. This new formulation was in the process of being considered as an investigational new drug by Dow-Corning in 1976, when the accumulation of reported adverse effects, including inflammation, induration, discoloration, ulceration, migration, and silicone granuloma formation led Dow-Corning to withdraw its application. Liquid silicone is not Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved and its use should be condemned.

The FDA warns that they have not approved “the marketing of liquid silicone for injection for any cosmetic purpose, including the treatment of facial defects or wrinkles, or enlarging the breasts.”

In the Philippines, sad to say, liquid silicone injection is still rampant. It can be found in the black market, as well as salons using non-medical and medical grade silicone intended for lubrication of surgical instruments. Medical grade silicone does not mean that it is intended for human injection. Horror stories are abound with the injection of silicone oils. Most of the people who inject it will say that it is a form of collagen. Beware. Collagen injections are very expensive as compared to silicone injections which will cost under USD200 for a noselift. Some patients even fall victim to silicone injections as alternatives to breast augmentation with implants.

Effects of silicone injection are well-documented. Displacement due to gravity, inflammation, and discoloration of surrounding tissues, and granuloma formation, and infection of the recipient area are the most common complications reported. Foreign-body-type silicoma can even occur up to 11 years after implantation, even with highly refined, medicalgrade silicone and microdroplets.

There is difficulty of conducting long-term follow-up with patients who present with these complications, because of the underground nature of the practice. It is the author’s wish that by making the public and the medical community aware of the symptoms and severe consequences of illegal silicone use, mortality risks and patient outcomes from this clandestine practice will improve. The safety and well-being of the patient should be the plastic surgeon’s primary concern. Illicit practices such as these has no room in the field of plastic surgery. Always ask for the qualifications of your chosen surgeon. liquid silicone

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