Silicone injection (cosmetic)

A.Prof Frank Gaillard et al.

Silicone injection into various parts of the body has been used in many countries to achieve what are perceived to be cosmetic improvements. Most common sites for such injections are the breasts, face, and buttocks, although anywhere could be targeted. 

This article is general discussion of the topic. For breast injection, please refer to free silicone breast injection article. 

In most instances these injections are encountered incidentally when the body is imaged for other reasons. Complications from injection may however lead to local symptoms and require imaging. These include silicone granulomas (siliconoma), infection, fibrosis, and lymph node enlargement 1,2

Silicone granulomas can develop weeks to decades after injection and is particularly seen in illicit injection of non-medical grade silicone 1. Even in medical grade-silicone granuloma formation is encountered in approximately 20% of individuals 1

On mammography free silicone injection appears as multiple dense nodules 1,2. These can also develop peripheral calcification 2

On CT silicone injections and silicone granulomas appear of soft-tissue density, with surrounding fat stranding 1. Peripheral calcification may be present 2

On MRI silicone injections have the following signal intensities 1

  • T1: low signal intensity (similar to water)
  • T2: high signal intensity (similar or somewhat lower than water)

Chemical shift artefact may be seen 1

Direct injection of liquid silicone was its first use for cosmesis and was used extensively from the 1950s before finally being banned in the USA by the FDA in 1992 3. Despite this it continues to be used extensively, both illegally and legally in some countries. 

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Article information

rID: 48290
Section: Gamuts
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Cosmetic silicone injections

Cases and figures

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    Case 1: breast (mammo)
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    Case 1: breast (MRI)
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    Case 2: cheeks
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    Case 2: cheeks
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    Case 3: thighs
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