Silicone injections were first used in the 1940s to augment the appearance of the breast. In the 1950s, the liquid was used in the face as an injectable, permanent cosmetic filler, and the 1960s silicone became a popular filler for breast implants. Subsequent decades witnessed controversy surrounding the side effects of both silicone implants and injections. Liquid silicone was known to cause infections, granulomas (bumps), deformities, and pulmonary embolism. Migration of the product from the intended areas to other parts of the body had lethal effects.
As of 1992, the Food and Drug Administration banned the liquid for cosmetic use citing that the people who undergo silicone injections face “risk unknown and potentially serious side effects.” Five years later, the FDA approved Alcon Lab’s Silikon 1000 (a silicone-based product) for use only in procedures to correct detached retinas. As a result, silicone is slowly regaining popularity with some doctors using Silikon 1000 in an off-label capacity to fill wrinkles, furrows, acne scars, and to add volume to lips and cheeks. These doctors prefer the product because it’s easy to use, comparatively inexpensive, and permanent. No allergy test is needed for Silikon 1000, but if you are allergic to polymers, it’s best to use something else.
How does Silicone Work?
A doctor administers the silicone by injecting the product droplet by droplet into the treatment area. After injection, the body begins to produce collagen around it, which lifts and bulks up the skin. The body’s reaction to the injection, and not the product itself, creates the new volume. No one can gauge how strong this reaction will be, so multiple treatments may be needed to achieve the desired effect.
Benefits and Side Effects of Silicone
The side effects of silicone injections are permanent, and when the procedure goes wrong, the effect is obvious. The patient may experience severe swelling. Prominent large lumps and inflamed nodules may appear, as well as brown or red patches on the surface of the skin. The product may also migrate to other areas of the face. Steroids may be prescribed to control the swelling, and surgery may be performed to remove the product in extreme cases. Often, the surgery will leave scars that do not improve the individual’s appearance. There can also be unpredictable delayed reactions to the silicone, which can and have surfaced in clients 1-25 years after the treatment.
Unfortunately, as with many other pharmaceuticals, a black market for silicone has developed. Individuals claim to be able to procure the product at a discount and offer to administer treatments at a reduced cost. They target the uninformed, those looking for an affordable way to look younger, and the transgender community. For your health and safety, never accept treatment from an unlicensed practitioner in a nonmedical setting. When you accept product from unconfirmed sources, you risk exposure to other types of silicone, such as those used to lubricate machinery or other equipment. Even the term “medical grade” can be deceiving. Medical grade silicone may refer to the product used in injections, but it may also mean that the product is used to lubricate surgical tools. Only a qualified doctor can discern which silicone product can be used in the body, and the purity and grade of that product.