Types of breast implants
Breast implants are artificial (prosthetic) implants. In the UK, two types of breast implants are commonly used:
silicone gel implants – available as a liquid, a gel, or a solid form similar to plastic saline (sterile salt water) implants
Each type has associated advantages and disadvantages, although most people choose to use implants filled with silicone as they feel much softer.
Breast implants generally have a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years, but with the most modern implants this may not be the case and never require replacing. Implants can be shaped or round. The main advantage of the round implants is that the appearance does not change if the implant rotates within the breast pocket. If this occurs when using the shaped implants the cosmetic appearance can be compromised as the projection of the implant can be in the wrong position. This can give a “wonky” look when compared to the other breast where the implant has remained in the correct position. Thankfully this is rare but is quite difficult to treat and will usually require a further operation. Implant manufacture companies with good safety data include Nagor, Mentor and Allergan
Breast implant surgery
Breast implant surgery (Breast Augmentation) is usually carried out under general anaesthetic, and takes between 60 and 90 minutes.
During the operation, a cut (incision) will be made in the skin next to the treated breast(s). Your surgeon will discuss with you the location of the incisions beforehand so you’re aware of where the scars will be. In the UK the most common incision site is in the lower fold of the breast termed the “inframammary fold”
After the incision, the implant is positioned between your breast tissue and chest muscle, or behind your chest muscle. Deciding whether or not to place the implant either on top or underneath your pectoralis muscle requires a detailed discussion with your Surgeon. As a general rule the more breast tissue you have the more likely you are to have the implant put over the muscle. Once the implants are in place, the incision is stitched and covered with a dressing.
You’ll usually be able to go home the same day you have the operation, or you may need to stay in hospital overnight. When you return home, you’ll need to take things easy at first, before gradually returning to most of your normal activities within the next four to six weeks.
You may be worried your breasts look unnatural at first, but this is normal and in most cases temporary. Your breasts will usually start to look and feel better within a few months.
If you are contemplating having breast implants, you should make sure you are aware of the potential risks. Some of the problems that can occur as a result of having breast implants fitted include:
infection or bleeding after surgery which may need to implant loss
the shrinkage of scar tissue around the implant (capsular contracture)
the implant splitting (rupturing)
the implant becoming creased or folded
temporary or permanent changes to nipple sensation
In some cases, further surgery may be needed to treat problems that develop as mentioned above