"It is important to understand that these implants are not sold directly to patients," says David Barella, the executive vice president of marketing for McGhan Medical Corporation of Santa Barbara, Calif. McGhan, the maker of saline implants, includes pages and pages of device information for the physician's review, which Barella believes more than adequately addresses the labeling issues.
The 1992 scare regarding silicone breast implants, "was all based on junk science," he says. Consumers' present interest in breast implants cannot be credited to their growing confidence in the safety of silicone devices since the newer devices are made from saline. "But we do hear from physicians and patients that they prefer silicone implants for their natural feel."
Silicone breast implants presently are being studied again for use in the U.S. But whether consumers actually will return to silicone breast implants remains to be seen. The only given at present is that consumers have regained their interest in breast augmentation. Although the procedure primarily is an elective surgery, about 134,000 procedures were performed in 1998, and "I expect those figures to be about 10-15% higher for 1999," Barella tells WebMD.