Silicone is a manmade injectable filler that can be used to augment body parts and to fill wrinkles, facial depressions, and acne scars. When injected into the body, the thick liquid solidifies, becoming rubbery and hard.
Also known as silicone oil, it can hold its form for decades, classifying it as a permanent injectable. Liquid silicone has long been a source of controversy in the world of cosmetic procedures, since it doesn't bear the FDA's approval for use in the skin (it's really intended to fix retinal detachment). Still, doctors can legally use silicone off-label in the skin. (Off-label means using a treatment for a different purpose than what it's approved for.)
Silicone injections have been used as soft tissue fillers since the 1940s. In 1992, liquid silicone was banned by the FDA as a cosmetic solution following a leaky breast implant scare. But the substance was again cleared in 1997 for ophthalmological purposes, and in 2006, it was approved for breast augmentation, provided that the liquid is encased in a protective shell.
The two medical grade forms of liquid silicone are ADATO (or Sil ol 5000) and Silikon 1000, but it's the latter which is preferred for its thinner texture, making it easier to inject under the skin. Silikon 1000 is approved by the FDA for retinal detachment. Another very similar product, called SilSkin, is under review by the FDA as of October 2010. If approved, SilSkin will be officially cleared for the improvement of facial wasting, much like Sculptra.
Silicone injections are accomplished using a 30 mL needle to place 0.01 to 0.02 mL of silicone in intervals of two to four millimeters. These "microdroplets" are meant for portion control. Injecting too much silicone at once can create hard lumps (nodules), so treatments should be spread out every one to two months.
What It's Good For
Liquid silicone is approved by the FDA for an eye issue called retinal detachment. However, the injections are more commonly used off label to enhance the lips, cheeks, brow furrows, acne scars, chin, and href="/c/nasolabial-folds-smile-lines">nasolabial folds.
Silicone has also been used to add volume to the thighs and buttocks. But beware. There are dangers in using large quantities of liquid silicone, and the body can reject the foreign substance, leading to potentially fatal consequences when used in the thigh and buttocks. Liquid silicone should never be injected into the breasts under any circumstances.
Recommended age range: There are no specific guidelines since the substance is not approved for cosmetic use. Keep in mind that, by law, breast augmentation that utilizes silicone implants cannot be performed on patients under the age of 22 due to the risks associated with the material.
How long it lasts: Silicone injections are permanent, for better or worse.
Did you know?: From 2008 to 2009, the number of buttock augmentations in the U.S. increased by 29%. 98% of the procedures were performed on women under 50.
Who's Done It?
Lisa Rinna's famously full lips are not natural. She first received silicone injections in 1986, but on August 26, 2010, Rinna was treated again, this time to surgically reduce her upper lip. "My lips started to define who I am," she told People magazine.
At least Rinna takes responsibility for her botched procedures, unlike Priscilla Presley, who was victim to an unlicensed Argentinean doctor who injected industrial grade silicone laced with auto lubricant. Rinna and Presley were lucky though, unlike the former Miss Argentina, Solange Magnano, who suffered a fatal blood clot in her lungs at 38 years old, just days after receiving a large volume of silicone injections.