Elevated serum silicon levels in women with silicone gel breast implants

Suzanne S Teuber, Robert L. Saunders, Georges M. Halpern, Robert F. Brucker, Victor Conte, Brian D. Goldman, Edward E. Winger, W. Graham Wood, M. Eric Gershwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The metatolic fate of silicone gel leaked from an intact or ruptured prosthesis is unknown. In this study, serum was blindly assayed by inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES) for elemental silicon in 72 women with silicone gel breast implants and 55 control women (mean age 48 yr, both groups). Blood was drawn and processed using silicon-free materials. The mean silicon level in controls was 0.13±0.07 mg/L (range 0.06-0.35 mg/L), whereas in implant patients, the mean was significantly higher at 0.28±0.22 mg/L (range 0.06-0.87 mg/L) (P<0.01, Student's t-test with correction for unequal variances). Using the mean of the control group +2 SD as a cutoff for normal range (0.27 mg/L), 25/72 (34.7%) implant patients exceeded this value, compared with 2/55 (3.6%) controls. There was no significant correlation between past rupture of one or both implants, current rupture at the time of the blood draw, or the number of years with implants and silicon levels. The results suggest that serum silicon levels are elevated in many women with silicone gel breast implants. The chemical species involved and kinetics of this elevation remain to be determined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-130
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Trace Element Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1995


  • breast implants
  • inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry
  • Serum silicon
  • silicone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry


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