Stephen McCulley, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeon. MBChb, FCS(SA)Plast, FRCS(plast)

Choosing the right breast implants for you

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Types of breast implants

There are two types of implant currently used in the UK:

  • Silicone gel
  • Saline solution

Stephen McCulley and the team will be able to help you decide which type is best for you, but you can use the table below for a simple comparison.

Comparing breast implant types

Type of implant

Features

Pros

Cons

Silicone gel

  • Filled with either soft or firm (cohesive) silicone gel
  • Some have a polyurethane coating
  • If the soft gel type ruptures, it could cause siliconomas through leaking silicone
  • Firmer gel filling reduces the risk of siliconomas but may not  feel as natural
  • Polyurethane coating could cause temporary skin reaction

Saline solution

  • Filled with sterile salt water
  • A rupture would mean the saline solution would be safely absorbed or passed out of the body
  • More prone to wrinkling than silicone implants
  • More likely to rupture or deflate earlier than silicone
  • May feel less natural than soft silicone gel

What does a ‘quality’ implant mean?

Appearance/feel

Saline solution and silicone gel implants are different entities with different properties; therefore they have different criteria around quality. And how you define quality matters too: if this is taken to mean how closely the implants resemble natural breast tissue, then most people would probably opt for silicone.

Safety

For many people, safety will be the optimum concern, particularly following the ban of PIP breast implants in 2010. These implants were found to have been manufactured with unapproved silicone gel and ruptured far more easily than other breast implants, meaning tens of thousands of women were advised to have them removed.

Further advice

The breast implants used by Stephen McCulley are made by the most reputable manufacturers; therefore both the silicone and saline implants used are of the utmost safety. You can ask Stephen and the team more about this if you have any concerns or would like advice about which type of implant is right for you.

What could go wrong?

After any surgery there will be a recovery period, during which you’re likely to feel sore and tender. But it’s important to know about the risks of having breast implants and the signs that there may be complications.

You can find out more information at our Potential complications after breast augmentation FAQs and How to tell if your breast implant has ruptured pages.

Glossary of terms

  • Capsular contracture

When the body naturally forms a protective ‘capsule’ around the breast implant and the capsule tightens over time, squeezing and hardening the implant.

  • Polyurethane coating

Silicone implants are coated with polyurethane foam, which is thought to reduce the risk of capsular contracture and implant displacement.

  • Rotation of implant

When the ‘tear drop’ shaped implant rotates inside the pocket in which it’s inserted, i.e. if there is too much space.

  • Siliconomas

A condition in which silicone can spread from the implant into the breast area, causing small lumps or ‘siliconomas’ to form. These can feel tender to the touch.

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