5 frequently asked questions about breast surgery


What are the different types of breast implant?

Silicone implants are the most commonly used type in the UK. This can either come in the form of a fluid-like gel or a firmer jelly-like substance. Both of these are surrounded by a firm shell that is smoothed or textured.

Solid gel implants benefit from keeping their shape if they do rupture whereas the softer gel has a more natural feel than other implants. These don’t tend to be advised for slim patients as they cause wrinkling on the skin.

Saline implants are filled with a substance found naturally in the body. However, as they are softer, there is a higher chance that these will rupture, feel and look less natural and cause wrinkling on the skin. These can be inserted empty and then filled by the surgeon once in place.

What causes a breast implant to rupture and how will I know?

There are many reason why an implant can rupture or leak and depending on your implant, the symptoms you experience depend on the type of implant you have.

If you have a silicone gel implant that ruptures, the gel tends to stay within the capsule meaning you and your doctor may not notice this happen. It is possible that your body may react to the leaking gel by distorting your breast shape, causing pain and discomfort.

Softer silicone gel can spread to form lumps on the breast and move to another part of the body. As well as pain or discomfort, you may feel hard knots around the implant or your armpit. This may ache, burn or feel abnormally hard and your breast may change size. However, this leakage does not cause serious harm.

Saline implants can rupture through a break in the shell or a damaged or unsealed valve. This usually becomes obvious very quickly as the breast will lose shape and get smaller.

What qualifications should my surgeon have?

Doctors performing cosmetic surgery can be trained in any of the nine surgical specialities that are recognised by the Royal College of Surgeons. Doctors with only basic medical qualifications should not do cosmetic surgery. You are able to check your surgeon on the General Medical Council’s website which provides a list of specialists.

Are breast implants safe?

There is no evidence that breast implants cause or predispose to breast cancer, autoimmune disease or any other disease. As far as current medical research goes, breast implants are considered safe.

How long must you wait before going back to work? What activities should I avoid?

If your job does not require any physical activity such as heavy lifting, you should be able to return back to work within a few days. However, if you are required to do more physical work, then you will not be able to return for 2-4 weeks. Stitches are removed after ten days which mean you will not be able to shower or have deep baths until the wounds have healed sufficiently. Exercise should not be considered until one month after surgery.

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