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Saline Breast Implants: New Study Deflates Old Longevity Numbers

The head of a Los Angeles area plastic surgery practice and his research team confirm that saline implant deflation rates increase with time, but find the overall deflation rates are lower than previously thought.

Los Angeles, February, 2007 - Breast augmentation has never been more popular, and with increasing implant choices related to filling, shape, size and more, women are finding they can customize the procedure to fit their own individual needs. With the recent media buzz surrounding FDA approval of silicone gel breast implants last fall, many women today are spending extra time considering whether saline or silicone gel implants are best for them.

Dr. Grant Stevens, Medical Director of Marina Plastic Surgery in Southern California, notes that saline breast implants are still a very viable option for many Los Angeles area women seeking breast augmentation. The devices have some appealing advantages. Saline implants are filled after insertion, allowing flexibility in the ultimate size of the implants. And with some models, Dr. Stevens points out, the volume of saline filling can be adjusted for a time following surgery. This is a benefit for those who aren't sure what they want their ultimate new size to be. In addition, most saline implants carry a smaller price tag than their silicone gel counterparts.

One factor women are concerned about with all types of implants is durability. Dr. Stevens and his team explain to their Southern California breast augmentation patients that implants are not necessarily permanent. Whether silicone or saline, it is not unusual for implants to rupture and require replacement. That said, patients naturally want their breast augmentation results-and their implants—to last as long as possible.

All implant manufacturers issue product information including deflation rates, but Dr. Stevens and three other researchers felt that not enough data had been gathered to characterize saline implant deflation rates over time. They conducted an analysis of 645 Mentor Siltex adjustable saline implants placed in 324 patients, following those patients over a five year period. The procedures were all performed by Dr. Stevens, using the same surgical technique, and the implants were filled according to Mentor's recommended volume.

"Our study confirmed that the rate of deflation for this particular saline implant increases with time," commented Dr. Stevens, "implying that the Siltex implants deflate more often as they age. The interesting thing is that we found the deflation rate is lower than the manufacturer's expected rate as described in the product literature." For example, during the first year Dr. Stevens' patient population experienced a .03% deflation rate, while Mentor Corporation predicted a 1% rate. After five years, Dr. Stevens' patient group experienced a 5.1% deflation rate, in contrast to the 10% rate shown on the product data sheet.

Dr. Stevens says that while the results of his study signal that saline implants have the potential to last longer than even their manufacturer suggests, further studies are still needed. He explains that discussions about the possibility of future surgery and costs due to implant deflation are key to doctor-patient decision-making and planning. "Patients deserve accurate information regarding the likely longevity of their implants," he said. "We will continue to follow up on the patients in our study to help provide this kind of information."

For more information on the study, contact Dr. Grant Stevens at Marina Plastic Surgery. Call 877-298-9915 or visit www.theperfectbreast.com.

Dr. Grant Stevens is a California board-certified plastic surgeon and the Medical Director of Marina Plastic Surgery in Marina Del Rey. He specializes in cosmetic plastic surgery and has been named one of America's Best Physicians by his colleagues in The Guide to Top Doctors. He is an active member at Centinella-Freeman Marina Hospital where he is the past Chairman of the Department of Surgery, the past Chairman of the Liposuction Committee, and the past co-director of the Breast Center. He is also on staff at St. John's Medical Center and the Marina Outpatient Surgery Center. Dr. Stevens is an Associate Clinical Professor at the USC Medical School and Director of the American Society of Aesthetic Surgery-approved Marina Aesthetic Surgery Fellowship.

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