Banned From Beauty: Silicone Injections

Europe may be at the forefront of cutting-edge beauty, but on some issues, they’re more cautious of potential dangers. What’s deemed to be dangerous and a threat to your health overseas may not be viewed with the same caution on our shores; but should it? There are a handful of treatments and procedures that aren’t available on our shores (and visa versa) and for good reason. Read on to see where your favorite treatment stands. 

Silicone injections first gained popularity in the 1950s when they were used to augment breasts. But they caused infections, deformities and bumps and were eventually banned (they are FDA approved as micro droplet injections for scars and as silicone gel implants for breast reconstruction and augmentation, and facial augmentation).

Many women are misled and told that silicone (both medical- and nonmedical-grade) can be used to augment anything. It does last indefinitely, but silicone does not adapt to aging tissue. Liquid silicone is often used, albeit off label or on the black market. Silicone is especially popular in Miami, where medical and nonmedical providers alike use it. Most patients injected with moderate to large amounts of it have complications and problems.

  • Women who are injected with nonmedical- or industrial-grade silicone (a non-cohesive loose liquid that can travel unpredictably)—either knowingly or unintentionally—tend to seek out unqualified professionals and have it injected into the lips, buttocks and face.
  • The only way to reverse any damage incurred is with a surgical procedure, which may not eliminate all the silicone or correct the visible effects.
  • Injected silicone can migrate through the blood, causing clotting in the lungs and potentially death.

What the U.S. Expert Says: “problems can arise”

“Silicone injections are illegal in the U.S., but many women seek treatment because they want permanent results but don't realize the repercussions,” says Miami dermatologist Loretta Ciraldo, MD. “If you have something injected, make sure you have it done by a qualified expert injector who only uses reputable and FDA-approved products. A lot of women who are injected with silicone don't even know it’s being used on them.”

What the European Expert Says: “silicone is rarely used”

Silicone is rarely used as an injectable in Europe. Cap d'Antibes, France, plastic surgeon Henry Delmar says black market injectables basically don't exist. “The European injectable market is pretty well controlled. The consequences of using something illegal are too high, and the laws are more strict.” 

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