What does an implant contain?


What is silicone?

Silicone comes from silicium, which is found, amongst other things, in sand. Silicium becomes silicone when it is combined with oxygen, carbon and hydrogen. This is how we can find silicone in the form of gel, oil or rubber, depending on the combinations of each chemical element that makes it up.
Silicone is an inert material that has been used since 1946 in the medical profession. It has been used in the manufacture of intraocular lenses, pacemakers and, of course, in breast implants since 1963. It does not cause any major reaction from the body. Its mechanical qualities give it great resistance to impact.

How is an implant made?

Implants are made up of a flexible silicone elastomer shell, which gives the prosthesis its shape and acts as an interface between the body and the implant. This shell, which is closed by a patch, may be sold empty to be filled by the surgeon with saline solution during the operation (only in the case of breast implants or tissue expanders) or sold pre-filled with cohesive silicone gel at the time of manufacture.

Why is texture important?

In the first breast implants, the shell had a smooth, porous surface, which allowed the silicone gel, which tended to be more liquid at the time, to penetrate; this caused a violent reaction in the body in the form of a fibrous shell causing a capsular contracture. The introduction of texture has led to a significant drop in the number of these capsular contractures. However, the improvement in raw materials, on the one hand, and in operating procedures, on the other hand, has made the capsular contracture rate seem the same whether a smooth or textured implant is used. The choice is up to the surgeon.

Nonetheless, on implanting an anatomic prosthesis, it is advisable to use a textured implant to avoid possible rotation of the implant.

Can the silicone gel leak out through the shell?

The improvement in raw materials and manufacturing procedures – barrier in the shell and cohesive gel – make it possible to place strong limitations on the possibility of the gel leaking through the shell. Minute quantities of silicone are likely to leak through the elastomer shell, even for inflatable implants. The risk of this triggering inflammatory diseases remains very low.