Breast Augmentation Scotland – Information on Implant Complications and Failure

Breast Augmentation Scotland – Information on Implant Complications and Failure

Breast Augmentation Scotland – Information about silicone breast implants

Breast implant failure (rupture/ leak) 

Breast implants have a limited lifetime and may not necessarily be in place for life. A number of factors may impact on the longevity of the implants such as the type of implant inserted, the surgical technique, injury to the the breast, and excessive repetitive compression. On average, the expected lifetime of a silicone gel implant is between 10-20 years.


Important points:


Breast implant silicone safety

An independent review group set up by the Department of Health to investigate silicone gel safety found no scientific evidence to support a relationship between silicone gel and a number of illnesses reported in a small group of women who had breast implants. A study published in the American journal – Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (2004; 114: 204-14) concluded that, “implant rupture is a relatively harmless condition, which rarely progresses and gives rise to notable symptoms.”


Breast implant rupture rates

High rupture rates followed the use of the 2nd generation implants (thin shell – liquid silicone gel used in the 1970s – 80s). The currently used 5th generation implants (improved shell designs – cohesive gel) have very low rupture rates.


Types of  breast implant rupture

The rupture is called intracapsular when the leaking gel is contained within the capsule of scar tissue that forms around all implants. The rupture becomes extracapsular when the silicone is not contained by the capsule. The escaping gel might cause complications, mostly limited to the breast and the axilla (armpit), in the form of inflammatory nodules/ lumps called granulomas. It is worth noting that the use of cohesive gel has reduced the possibility of silicone migration. As mentioned above, there is no scientific evidence linking leaks with serious systemic illnesses ( information).


2nd generation breast implants

breast implants scotland

2nd generation implant – note the thin shell and liquid nature of the silicone

5th generation breast implants

breast implants scotland

5th generation implant – note thick shell and cohesive nature of gel


How to detect breast implant rupture

Contrary to popular belief, most silicone leaks are silent with no observable change in breast size. The reason for this is that when cohesive silicone gel implants break they rarely deflate. Some women may report changes in the shape/ size and/ or feel of the affected breast, uneven appearance (asymmetry) of the breasts, acquired lumps, pain/ tenderness or other unusual sensations. It is essential to note that these changes do not necessarily mean that an implant has leaked or ruptured. Mammography is not a particularly sensitive method for detecting rupture, however, women might be alerted to the possibility of rupture following mammography. An MRI scan is the most accurate imaging examination for detecting rupture, the main drawback is the cost and possible unavailability. Ultrasound scanning is relatively accurate, inexpensive and more readily available than MRI but is highly operator-dependent.

Can routine scans be justified?

Scanning can be an effective tool in excluding rupture, for example, following trauma to the breast and as a mechanism to reassure anxious patients. The dramatic reduction of rupture rates following the introduction of 5th generation implants and the expense of MRI scans does not justify routine long-term scanning. This recommendation may change depending on the results of ongoing studies.


Saline breast Implants

Rupture of these implants can be easily detected. They deflate like “popping a water balloon”. Saline implants are rarely used in the UK.


Treatment of ruptured breast implants

Most experts agree that ruptured implants should be removed. While this is not a surgical emergency, early removal reduces the risk of the silicone gel leaking outside the capsule (the film of scar tissue that  forms around implants and acts as a natural barrier between the implant and the breast tissue).

At surgery, the implant, any leaked silicone, and the capsule are all removed together “en bloc“.


The bulk of implants in current use are guaranteed for life by the manufacturing company which replace failed implants at no charge. Some manufacturers contribute a sum of money towards the hospital costs/professional charges.


Further information


Please click on the images below for a slide show

breast augmenation scotland breast implants scotland boob job scotland breast implant information scotland breast augmenation scotland revision breast surgery scotland












Follow the links for further information on Breast Augmentation in Scotland and for before and after photos of breast augmentation and photos of revision breast augmentation.