Liquid Injectable Silicone: A Review of Its History, Immunology, Technical Considerations, Complications, and Potential

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Abstract

Summary:

For over five decades, liquid injectable silicone has been used for soft-tissue augmentation. Its use has engendered polarized reactions from the public and from physicians. Adherents of this product tout its inert chemical structure, ease of use, and low cost. Opponents of silicone cite the many reports of complications, including granulomas, pneumonitis, and disfiguring nodules that are usually the result of large-volume injection and/or industrial grade or adulterated material. Unfortunately, as recently as 2006, reports in The New England Journal of Medicine and The New York Times failed to distinguish between the use of medical grade silicone injected by physicians trained in the microdroplet technique and the use of large volumes of industrial grade products injected by unlicensed or unskilled practitioners. This review separates these two markedly different procedures. In addition, it provides an overview of the chemical structure of liquid injectable silicone, the immunology of silicone reactions within the body, treatment for cosmetic improvement including human immunodeficiency virus lipoatrophy, technical considerations for its injection, complications seen following injections, and some considerations of the future for silicone soft-tissue augmentation.

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