According to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, some 50,122 cosmetic surgical procedures were performed in the UK during 2013. The figures demonstrate what many of us may have guessed. As a nation our desire to look good, and therefore our hunger for cosmetic surgery, are both growing. There has been an average increase of 17% in all cosmetic procedures performed since 2012 alone.
Breast augmentation surgery remains by far the most popular procedure on the UK market, with 11,135 augmentations carried out last year, an increase of 13% since 2012. With so many women choosing to undergo the process, the thirst for knowledge about the types of breast implants available is at an all-time high. So what are the similarities and differences between implants, and is any one type better than another?
Silicone implants are made from just that – silicone shells filled with silicone – a kind of plastic gel. Silicone implants can vary in their firmness and consistency. They come pre-filled and ready to insert straight into the body. Some women claim that this type of implants have a more realistic look and feel to them than saline implants. This is because silicone moves a lot like natural breast tissue, mimicking the movement of body fat. In addition, silicone implants are available in anatomically sympathetic teardrop shapes rather than less natural looking spheres.
The good news is that newer silicone implants are filled with ‘cohesive gel’, a solid but gooey substance almost like a jelly baby in its consistency. These implants are more difficult to rupture, and being so solid it is unlikely that they would leak out into the body’s tissues if they did.
These implants are no longer available on the market and have proved by far the most controversial following a scare in which it was discovered that French PIP implants (made by French company Poly Implant Prothese) contained industrial silicone rather than more appropriate medical-grade material. A UK report found that PIP implants ruptured twice as often as other implants, but they were not proved to be toxic or to carry an increased cancer risk if they did rupture. Therefore routine removal was not recommended in the UK although authorities in France, Venezuela, Germany and the Czech Republic recommended that they should be taken out as a precaution against harm.
More than 40,000 UK women are thought to have had PIP implants, 95% of them inserted at private clinics. The NHS advocates removal and replacement of PIP implants that were implanted by the NHS while some private clinics have offered to replace PIP implants for free. Women who already have PIP implants may choose to have them removed and replaced with another type of implant and should consult their doctor or their cosmetic surgeon to discuss all the options available to them.
Choosing your implants
You will probably be given a sample of each of the types of breast implants to feel and discuss at your initial surgery consultation. This should help you to make an informed decision about which implant you think might suit you best. The look and feel of an implant can be affected by your body type, which should be noted, discussed and taken into account at your initial consultation. Choosing the best type of implant for your body type can be a difficult decision to make, but, for example, if the breasts are of uneven size a surgeon may suggest using different sized implants to correct the problem. In most cases, however, because the sizes of available implants are fixed it is not always possible to correct asymmetry entirely.
The average cost of breast augmentation surgery in the UK is around an average of £4,000- £5,000. Often tear drop shaped implants and having surgery under general anaesthetic with an overnight stay in hospital can both make the procedure slightly more expensive. However, you should bear in mind how long your implants will last when tallying up the costs of surgery. Some implants come with a lifetime guarantee against rupture. However, most implants will require some sort of further procedure at some stage. Therefore you will have to undergo and pay for another round of surgery to either replace the implants or remove them.