Dow Corning breast implants were the most popular of the early silicone implants used for cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Although originally hailed as a miracle product to increase breast size and fullness, the silicone breast implant became a symbol of corporate liability, patient suffering, poor science and abuse of the legal system for over 20 years.
This dissertation speaks about the sordid history of Dow Corning implants and how the early days of breast augmentation almost put an end to the industry forever.
History of Dow Corning Silicone Implants
Dow Corning was founded in 1897 by Herbert Henry Dow, a Canadian chemist. Dow Corning began producing a very limited product line, consisting of potassium bromide and bleach.
The company grew, expanding over many years, and eventually became a major manufacturer of silicone products. Naturally, the company moved into making silicone breast implants when the demand for these products was established.
At the time, Dow Corning was the second largest chemical manufacturer in the entire world and the largest producer of plastics.
Dow Corning Breast Implant Litigation
Dow Corning was one of the earliest targets of a vast number of individual and class-action silicone breast implant lawsuits concerning a cosmetic surgical product or procedure.
The trouble for Dow started in 1977, with one breast implant lawsuit and grew to over 20,000 by 1995.
Dow Corning filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1995, as a result of these overwhelming financial liabilities.
Many verdicts were returned finding Dow responsible for illness and problematic health concerns faced by women who had received Dow silicone breast implants.
Ironically, silicone implants were later discovered to pose no increased risk for causing or contributing to any disease or illness and might actually reduce the chances of developing some types of breast cancer.
Enduring Dow Corning Breast Implant Controversy
The Dow Corning debacle taught medical manufacturers a valuable lesson: disclosure is crucial. Companies now disclose any potential side effects of any medical or pharmaceutical product or service; even if there is no proof that the side effect actually exists.
Dow was found guilty in the media, long before most litigants ever reached a court of law, due to the sincerity of most victims and defensive reaction of the company.
Dow should have had a better patient education program and better explained the negative considerations involved with breast augmentation to potential patients.
Although the company did eventually recover from the implant fiasco, it was eternally damaged in reputation and limited its desires to expand into riskier industries.