You should discuss implant type options in your consultation with your cosmetic surgeon as the best combination of these choices will be dependent upon your personal circumstances e.g. the size and the shape of your own natural breasts.
In modern day breast enlargement surgery in the UK, there are three main types of synthetic breast implants used. These are saline breast implants, silicone and polyurethane breast implants. You will also be interested to read about breast enlargement history and the materials used for breast implants.
In addition to the synthetic implants, natural tissue is also sometimes used but this is typically for reconstructive surgery following mastectomy for example. Natural tissue is rarely used for cosmetic purposes, one of the reasons being scars from taking tissue from other areas of the body.
Silicone is a synthetic compound. It is made from silicon which has been combined with oxygen, hydrogen and carbon. Gels and elastomer forms of silicone are used to make breast implants. Silicones are used in common everyday materials such as hand lotions, lipsticks and deodorants. Silicone is common material that has been used in medicine since the 1940's. It has been used in breast implants since 1962.
- Long lifetime - 10 to 18 years.
- Silicone is soft and pliable which gives the implant a natural look and feel.
- It has a 'shape memory' which makes it less likely to wrinkle or ripple with age.
- Silicone is also very tough and most durable. In the extremely rare event that the implant was to tear or rupture, it would keep its shape and silicone would not leak out into the surrounding tissue. In fact, if an implant is cut in half the gel will not leak out and the shape will be maintained.
- Cohesive gel firm implants may result in a slightly larger scar than with soft silicone gel implants or saline implants.
- Due to the nature of silicone, a ruptured implant can potentially go undetected for years. It is recommended that women with silicone implant are checked every few years. The most effective way to do this is through an MRI scan which can be costly.
See also our guide on polyurethane breast implants.