The most serious problems occur when tissue around the implant contracts, the implant ruptures or the area becomes infected (Vanderkam 4).
Clearly, the safety of breast implants needs to continue to be studied. "The [FDA approval] panel stressed women will need yearly mammograms to check for signs of leakage since silicone can leak without immediate knowledge to the patient because the silicone leaks out slowly [...]. If there is leakage or a break in the implant, the implant(s) should be replaced" (Staff). However, breast implants have been totally safe for many women for years, and the recent ruling by the FDA to allow them again only adds to the strong belief many in the medical field hold that breast implants are a safe alternative for millions of women who hope to enhance their figures, or reconstruct their figures after a mastectomy.
It is quite clear that the choice to undergo breast implant surgery is a very personal decision and not the right decision for every woman. Society places a great importance on outward appearances - especially for women - and part of this importance deals directly with the figure and the bust line. Women with small breasts are someone seen as less significant than those with large breasts, in everything from Playboy magazine to cheerleaders at professional sporting events. This may not be the right attitude, and it can cause many psychological issues in women, from eating disorders to low self-esteem, it is an acknowledged fact that the "ideal" American woman has a small waist and big breasts, and millions of women would like to mold their bodies to look like that ideal. Women who undergo implant surgery often say they feel better about themselves, as one satisfied patient told an interviewer.
Leanne explained that her breasts were out of proportion with the rest of her body: "I grew up as a fairly flat chested girl and everything else, proportionately, everything else was in very nice shape. I mean, I'm blonde-haired, blue-eyed, and had a nice figure... [I felt] inadequate. I felt like I was missing something." As a result of her implant surgery, she reported feeling as if her body was correctly proportioned for the first time. "I feel like for my body weight, and my posture, and my build, and my muscle makeup, that I just feel normal" (Vanderford and Smith 60).
Most women who undergo surgery for appearance reasons echo the same sentiments, and a majority of women who undergo surgery for mastectomy reconstruction also say they feel better about themselves and their bodies after surgery (Vanderford and Smith 61-66). Implant surgery may not be the solution for all women, and many women do not want to change the bodies nature gave them in any way, but in a large number of cases, breast implant surgery is a plus for everyone involved.
In conclusion, the controversy over breast implants had died down considerably, and many studies show that breast implant surgery is again on the rise, after many years of decreases during and after the lawsuits and publicity (Staff). Women should make sure they have good, open relationships with their doctors, so they can discuss both the pros and cons of breast implant surgery, and women should know the risks involved in any surgical procedure. Breast implant surgery is a very personal decision, and not one to be made lightly. For many women, it is the answer to their prayers, and gives them a new lease on life. Breast implant surgery is becoming more understood as it becomes more common, and as more women seek it out, it seems certain that newer, even safer types of implants will come to the market in the future. Breast implants, like it or not, are an important part of many modern women's lives, and will continue to be in the future.
Brecher, Elinor J. "Bucking the Media Line on Breast Implants." Nieman Reports Spring 1994: 50+.
Slesnick, Frank. "Science on Trial: The Clash of Medical Evidence and the Law in the Breast Implant Case." Journal of Forensic Economics 11.3 (1998): 271.
Staff. "All About Silicone Breast Implants." ImplantForum.com. 16 Oct. 2003. 26 Nov. 2003. http://www.implantforum.com/silicone/
Vanderford, Marsha L., and David H. Smith. The Silicone Breast Implant Story: Communication and Uncertainty. Mahwah, NJ: L. Erlbaum Associates, 1996.