September 3, 2002 at 1:25 AM EST - Updated July 11 at 9:05 AM
25 year-old Yvette Garcia doesn't care about the horror stories. She wants silicone implants over saline . "They feel more natural", said Garcia. "My friends who have saline are not really happy with them", she said. Yvette may now get her wish. The Texas-based Silimed company has just won limited FDA approval to provide silicone implants for women who simply want bigger breasts. Silicone for cosmetic use was banned in the US in 1992 after thousands of women complained their implants caused a variety of diseases. I had tremors. I felt weak. When I walked down stairs, I had to rest a couple of times. The FDA still allowed silicone implants in the US for medical reasons, for cancer reconstruction, and as replacement implants, but for the most part plastic surgeons have been forced to use the less desirable saline water-filled implants. In most other countries Silicone's remained the implant of choice. In fact we traveled to Costa Rica in 1997 to report on the hundreds of women traveling there for breast augmentation surgery. By the late 90's. silicone manufacturers had settled the largest class action lawsuit in history. But companies still maintained there was no direct link between the implants and systemic disease. More than 10 independent medical studies came to that same conclusion. Now plastic surgeons like Dr. Steven Herman are about to use silicone again for cosmetic implants." I like silicone better cosmetically, our patients prefer it to saline," said Herman. "And it's just as safe as saline?" "Just as safe as saline," said Dr. Herman . He is the medical director for Silimed's clinical study. There will be 50 medical sites around the country. 1000 women will be in the initial group who will be followed for ten years. "There really aren't any special requirements. There is detailed informed consent and the women will be closely monitored by the FDA," said Herman. Still, it's likely this latest development will ignite women who still believe the implants are dangerous.The internet is full of websites of women sharing silicone horror stories. A New York trial attorney reviewed many of the initial lawsuits against manufacturers, and wonders: "When you have a product that has made so many tens of thousands of women sick, why allow it back on the market. Why not ban it forever?" But Yvette Garcia believes she has the right to make her own choice and she's made her decision." "I just feel silicone is the best for me". "No doubts about it?"No doubts about it", she said". And dozens of plastic surgeons obviously have no doubts. They have a lot at stake. They're essentially banking their livelihood on the belief silicone is safe.