Little did Duke University plastic surgeon, Dr. Michael Zenn, know what he was in for in a recent Q&A guest appearance in the Freakonomics Blog column in the New York Times. Out of about 20 questions on a range of subjects he responded to, he made the "mistake" of accurately discussing a single innocuous question about breast implants.
Q: Would you endorse cohesive gel instead of silicone due to the concern over safety issues of silicone? Or do you believe that was all just hoopla? Is it true that breast implants should be redone every 5 to 10 years?
A: Today’s breast implant options are saline or silicone. Saline implants are a silicone shell filled with salt water, silicone implants are a silicone shell filled with cohesive gel. Both implants are equally safe, both have the same safety profile.
The Institute of Medicine found that much of the concerns were hoopla — except for the problems that they both have: rupture, scarring, and infection. Most plastic surgeons and patients will tell you silicone just feels better. Implants are replaced when one of the above problems occurs
Skip down to the comments section and you'd think he was advocating beating your wife as nearly 5 out of every 6 comments are by breast implant "survivors" wailing alternately on his intelligence, character, and ethics. Ah, the wonders of the Internet to organize like-minded partisans into rapid response teams!
Much like the autism vaccine conspiracy theorists, the breast implant siliconistas come off looking out of touch with such reflexive outrage on command, particularly when you recognize the kind of heavy duty microsurgical and reconstructive surgery practice that Dr. Zenn is known for at Duke. He's one of the good guys for Pete's sake!
There's intelligent reasons to object to breast augmentation surgery, but claiming it caused symptom or disease "X,Y,Z...." is a dead horse that's been buried several times over! For a refresher see here and here to recap the comprehensive 2007 landmark review.