Frederic H. Corbin, MD, 62, of Beverly Hills and Brea, Calif, is accused of smuggling illegal silicone breast implants into the United States and  using them for breast augmentation. Federal prosecutors also allege that Corbin falsified patients’ medical records so that they could receive American-made silicone implants that could be used only in testing programs. If found guilty, he could face as much as 10 years in prison.

“Silicone gel is the preferred implant when you talk about the ‘Coke-or-Pepsi’ test,” says James Wells, a Long Beach, Calif, aesthetic surgeon and past president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. “If you give them the choice between a gel and a saline implant and cover it with a towel, just on texture and feel they will more often than not pick the gel implant.”

According to court documents, Corbin used the imported implants as early as 1996, when a woman asked him if he would implant French-made silicone implants she’d gotten in Mexico. Corbin agreed and soon began importing implants from a woman in Tijuana.  Court documents also allege that when a healthy patient asked Corbin for silicone, he would create false records to qualify them for an implant study.

Prosecutors say they do not plan to charge the women who received the implants.

“They probably knew they were getting the preferred implants, but I don’t know that they knew they were breaking the rules to get them,” says Ken Julian, the assistant US attorney who is prosecuting the case.

[Los Angeles Times, April 12, 2006]