Are breast implants safe?

Breast implants are safe. As with all operations, there are risks but serious complications are very rare with this surgery. Medical grade silicone is used to make breast implants. Silicone doesn’t do anything in your body and doesn’t present any immediate danger should your implant rupture. There is no association between breast enlargement and breast cancer or cancer of any other part of the body either.

Sometimes, over time the implant shell may rupture, and the silicone gel can leak out. The inside of a silicone implant is made out of cohesive gel which is similar to a jelly baby in consistency, so this means that the silicone will leak out but at a very slow rate. If you feel discomfort because of the rupture, it is recommended that you have another operation to remove and replace the implants. However there is no evidence that the ruptured implant causes ill health.

Breast implants push your natural breasts forward so do not make it any more difficult to self- examine your breasts for lumps. During consultation with your surgeon, do ask them how to check your breasts for lumps once you have had the implants as some small modifications will need to be made. Breast implants do however interfere with mammography.

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A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast looking for signs of breast cancer that you cannot feel. It’s used as a screening test from the age of 50 years. The x rays cannot pass through the implant so some of the breast tissue is obscured. If you are called for a mammography you need to tell the service that you have implants.

There have been rumours about implants making sunbathing and flying dangerous, but implants do not create issues for either. However flying and exposure to the sun should be avoided for at least the first six weeks post-surgery.

Different implants used at The McIndoe Centre

The type of implants available are silicone gel or saline and both are used at The McIndoe Centre.

We also use an implant called the ‘B-Lite’ which is 30% lighter than the standard silicone equivalent. It’s important to note that we don’t use PIP implants and the implants that we do use are ethically approved. Ultimately the choice is yours and our GMC registered team of surgeons are well equipped to advise you.

Where to place implants: above or below the muscle

Your surgeon will discuss what is best for you, but the choice is either between the breast and the chest muscle or under the muscle. The first option is the most natural place and generally speaking, this placement is a little more comfortable than placing the implant under the muscle. Placing the implant under the muscle gives extra tissue coverage and there is less risk of rippling.

Complications that can happen after the operation

Bleeding – the risk of bleeding is less than 1%. Sometimes there will be bleeding into the space around the implant. This usually happens after the operation but occasionally can happen up to two weeks later when the breast becomes swollen and tight. If this happens, you will need to have the blood removed and the bleeding stopped and are likely to need to spend a night in hospital. You will have more bruising than expected but it should settle down in time.

Infection – again, the risk of infection is less than 1%. Sometimes the infection will settle down with antibiotics but if the infection persists, then further surgery could be needed.

Adverse capsular contracture – after surgery, your body will form scar tissue around the implant. This is a normal physical response after the body experiences trauma. For most people this goes undetected and the breast feels soft and looks natural but in some people the scar contracts and makes breast feel unnaturally firm and sometimes painful. If this occurs, then you should see your surgeon again.

Changes to the feeling of the breasts – most people will get some change in the sensation of their breasts after surgery. Usually there is some numbness above the scar and oversensitivity of the nipples. This will usually fade over time but in some cases changes to sensation can be permanent.

Source: BAAPS

Page last reviewed on 26/10/2018