Breast Implant Risks and Silicone Safety
Breast enlargement surgery is a relatively straightforward procedure with few complications when performed by an expert. As with most operations, there are potential risks involved with all types of breast surgery. While these risks are small, it is important to be aware of potential complications associated with your surgery which will be explained to you at your surgeon consultation. You can also actively reduce potential problems by adhering to the pre and post-operative instructions given to you by your surgeon.
There are 10,000 to 25,000 breast enlargements performed in the United Kingdom every year. The majority of implants used are silicone filled implants. The modern silicone breast implant was first manufactured in 1963. All implants have a similar design, an outer silicone elastomer shell, which can be smooth or textured. It can have other variations of size and shape. The shell is then filled either with silicone or with saline.
The choice of implant is particular to each patient’s needs. The modern silicone implant is filled with a cohesive type gel. This is a jelly like consistency, so the silicone does not leak when cut.
This type of implant is called a third-generation implant as it replaces two previous developments of implant design. This also includes a tougher outer silicone shell which allows much less silicone “bleed” or diffusion as well as being filled with a more viscous and cohesive gel. A cohesive gel minimises gel spread in the case of rupture of the implant.
Silicone and Breast Implants
Silicone is a polymer of silicon and oxygen. Dimethylsiloxane is the form of silicone found in breast implants. It is one of the least reactive materials used in medical devices.
The shell is made of a tough rubber like silicone. The shell membrane is slightly permeable which gives rise to ‘bleed’. This leakage of silicone should be put into context. Silicone is everywhere in our surroundings from cosmetics to medical devices and may be present already in the body. The two main issues relating to Silicone Implant safety were regarding the risk of breast cancer and connective tissue disease.
The idea that breast screening may be impaired by the presence of a breast implant has been shown not to be true in a number of studies. Mammographic screening should take place as it would with any woman. Mammograms should be performed by a unit experienced in displacement views.
Neither saline nor silicone breast implants appear to increase breast cancer risk. A meta-analysis that combined the results from 10 studies found no increase in breast cancer risk among women with breast implants. A few studies found a lower risk of breast cancer among women who had breat implants. However, this could be due to traits of women who choose breast implants (such as being lean), rather than the implants themselves.
BIA-ALCL – Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma. For several years there has been a growing awareness of an unusual and very rare but treatable tumour affecting the capsule surrounding breast implants. This is known as breast implant associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). This is not a breast cancer but a lymphoid tumour arising in the tissue surrounding the implant. Evidence continues to be gathered from all over the world and guidelines are still evolving regarding the cause and possible prevention of this tumour. At MyBreast we have been closely monitoring the situation and we have informed all our surgeons of the current status to ensure that the issues around BIA-ALCL are fully discussed with all our patients undergoing breast augmentation surgery.
If you have any concerns regarding ALCL please book a consultation with MyBreast.
Connective tissue disorders
Studies to date have failed to find a connection with any connective tissue disease and silicone. ‘Despite the many reports in the media, exhaustive evaluations by multiple prestigious scientific bodies such as the Institute of Medicine, the British Ministry of Health, a committee of the European Union (EQUAM), and multiple panels of experts established by various courts have confirmed that no evidence exists of any known or new systemic illness definitively attributed to silicones.’ eMedicine Breast Implants, Silicone: Safety and Efficacy 2005.
You and Your Breast Implants
Silicone breast implants continue to be the most popular type of implant used in the United Kingdom for breast enlargement. Discussion with your surgeon is important in making up your mind about whether breast enlargement is right for you? It is also important to discuss with you the type of implant you should use.
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