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Breast implants

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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  • in the UK, there are currently two types of synthetic implant available
    • silicone gel and saline
      • both types of synthetic implant are surrounded by a firm elastic shell, which helps to prevent the implant from rupturing
        • surface of this shell may either be smooth, or textured
        • silicone gel implants
          • silicone gel implants are filled with a silicone substance which can either be a solid, jelly-like gel, or a more fluid-like gel
          • are pre-filled before being inserted into your breasts
          • advantages
            • long history of safe use
            • less likely to wrinkle than other implants
            • silicone gel is the softest implant filler available, which means that it gives you a very natural feel
          • disadvantages
            • some types of silicone gel implant can occasionally cause a larger and more obvious scar than other implants
            • shell of some silicone gel implants is coated with a special type of foam (polyurethane) which breaks down over time
              • this foam helps reduce the risk of you developing capsular contracture, one of the most common complications of breast implants
                • polyurethane coated implants were withdrawn from the UK in 1991 following fears that the polyurethane could increase the risk of cancer.
                  • more recent studies and research have shown that the risk of cancer is extremely small
                    • polyurethane coated silicone implants were reintroduced to the UK in 2005 because the benefit of a reduced risk of capsular contracture was thought to outweigh the extremely small risk of cancer
        • saline implants
          • filled with a sterile salt and water solution
            • either pre-filled, or they are filled through a valve once they have been inserted into your breast
          • advantages
            • have a long history of use
            • saline solution can be safely absorbed and excreted by the body if the implant ruptures
          • disadvantages
            • may be prone to rupture, or deflation, at an earlier stage than other implants
            • not as effective in women whose existing breasts are small
            • more prone to wrinkling
            • may feel and look less natural than silicone gel implants


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