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There are two main types of breast implants that are currently used in the UK for breast enlargement surgeries. The first is filled with silicone gel, and the second is filled with saline (salt water). However, each type of breast implant has its pros and cons.

Implants have been used for breast augmentation since the 1960s and, according to the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS), if they are made to appropriate specifications then the current evidence suggests they are safe to use.

In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of each implant type, as well as information on the safety of both types. We will also offer insights on how to spot if your breast implant surgery has gone wrong - something that, unfortunately, can happen due to negligence on the part of a surgeon or clinic.

Silicone gel implants

Silicone gel implants are the most commonly used type in the UK. The silicone filler can either be a firm jelly-like gel - cohesive gel implants - or a softer, fluid-like gel. They are made from medical-grade silicone, which is a polymer that has been tried and tested for safety and is used in a number of other medical devices such as prosthetic implants.

One significant con of using silicone is that there is a risk of rupturing, and a ruptured implant can be difficult to detect. If the implant breaks, the silicone remains in the body and can travel beyond the breast and into the lymph nodes.

However, the BAPRAS states that, as far as current research suggests, silicone is safe and does not cause ill health. Everyone already has small quantities of silicone in their body which does not, as far as current research suggests, affect us. Silicone is inert in the body, meaning that you cannot react to it or reject it.

Saline gel implants

Saline is a solution found naturally in the body, which, according to the BAPRAS, many people believe to be a benefit. The con of a saline gel implant is that it can feel and look less natural than a silicone implant. They also are slightly more liable to rupture, which can cause wrinkling of the skin.

However, if the implant was to rupture, the saline solution would be safely absorbed or passed through the body. What’s more, the water-like filling of these implants means that if there was a leak they would visibly decrease in size over time, allowing you to catch a rupture sooner than a silicone implant.

Which implant type is safer?

Both saline and silicone breast implants are generally considered to be safe if the surgery is carried out by a reputable, qualified cosmetic surgeon. Some do believe that saline implants are safer, this is because - should the implant rupture - most of the salt water will be absorbed into the body. In addition, with saline implants, it is possible to know straight away if a rupture occurs, so that action can be taken straight away.

If you decide to undergo breast augmentation surgery, your surgeon will suggest which is the best implant for you. They will consider many variables in their discussion with you, taking into account, for example, your current breast size and shape, breast tissue, and medical history.

What risks are involved with breast implant surgery?

While most breast augmentation surgeries are carried out successfully and the patient is happy with their results, breast surgery does carry risks. For example, there are times when it does not go as planned, or people experience complications and problems afterward.

How will I know if my breast implant surgery has gone wrong?

There is a wide range of physical issues that negligence can cause. We have successfully helped patients claim compensation for the below issues following breast enlargement surgery:

  • Sagging breasts (ptosis)
  • Slippage or movement of the implants
  • Lopsided or different sized breasts
  • Uneven nipple positions
  • Inappropriate scarring
  • Breasts sitting too high, low, or wide
  • Implants too close together (symmastia - commonly known as ‘uni-boob')
  • ‘Double bubble’ or ‘cottage loaf’ effect where breasts have a double mound
  • ‘Bottoming out’ where implants fall to the bottom of the breasts
  • Mismanagement of infection

The above physical effects can trigger a negative emotional response, which can lead to:

  • Feeling disappointed that the surgery failed to achieve the effect the patient desired
  • The breasts not looking the way the patient expected them to
  • Depression as a result of unsuccessful surgery

Read more about the most common signs that your breast surgery has gone wrong

Contact Us

If you have experienced problems following breast augmentation surgery as a result of clinical negligence, get in touch with us to see if you have a case for compensation. Call 0808 256 1632 or request a callback by completing our contact form.

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Mike Saul


Michael Saul is a partner at Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors, where he brings his extensive specialist legal expertise and passion for helping people to the forefront of his work. With a proven track record of success in cosmetic surgery negligence cases, Michael has dedicated his career to providing clients with the highest level of representation and achieving favourable outcomes.

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