Silicone oil is often used when longer support of the retina is required during healing following to vitrectomy. This type of procedure is often used in the repair of complex retinal detachment with extensive scar tissue. The retina and its associated tears must be supported for an extended period of time to protect from the effects of progressive scar tissue formation. This scar tissue can pull on the retina and tears, resulting in recurrent retinal detachment and a need for further surgery.
The main advantage of silicone oil is that it provides support of the retina for a prolonged period of time. This also leads to its main disadvantage. Unlike a gas bubble that dissipates on its own, silicone oil must be removed in a second surgical procedure.