Polyurethane breast implants are used widely for breast augmentation surgery in South America, Europe and Australia. Although popular with high satisfaction rates, they have also sparked controversy in the past. Here are the key 5 questions and answers about Polyurethane implants.
1. What are they?
Polyurethane breast implants are silicone implants with a foamy texture on the outside of the implant. They are manufactured by a German company called Polytech.
2. What are the benefits?
The most significant benefit of Polyurethane implants is the reduced risk of capsular contracture. Capsular contracture is where scar tissue forms around the implant after breast augmentation surgery. This is a natural part of the healing process. In some cases however, over a period of time, the scar tissue can “squeeze” the implant. This will cause the breasts to harden and they can become painful. With a polyurethane implant, the textured foam layer prevents these harmful, later stages of capsular contraction. The scar tissue grows into the foamy texture and the implant becomes part of the breast tissue. With other types of implants, studies have shown that the chances of capsular contracture can be as high as 20% (1 in 5 women), 10 years after the operation has taken place. With polyurethane implants, the chances of capsular contracture were just 1%, up to 15 years post operation.
In addition, the polyurethane implants are also less likely to rotate in the breast, as the implant is more firmly attached to the breast tissue than with other types of implants.
3. What are the risks (including cancer)?
As the implant becomes part of the breast tissue, it can be difficult to remove it. If a removal needs to take place due to infection for example, it can make the operation more difficult. The implants were also controversially linked to cancer studies carried out in the 1990s. In a series of trials, a high level of one of the chemicals used in the polyurethane implant was injected into rats and the rats developed the disease. However, this chemical has never been shown to cause cancer in humans and has been found in patients who do not have breast implants. After further studies, an FDA panel calculated the risk to be 1 in 1 million, the equivalent to smoking one cigarette in the lifetime of a patient!. In other words – “negligible.” It is important to note that cancer has never been linked to polyurethane implants in a human being.
There is a rare type of cancer that has been linked with breast implants, but this has been associated with all breast implants, particularly textured silicone implants. I have written a blog post about it here.
4. Will I need to get them replaced in the future?
There is a lower chance of needing replacement as the chances of capsular contracture are significantly decreased. However, you should always consider that there may be a need to have your implants changed in the future.
5. How do I decide whether to have polyurethane implants?
There are many factors to consider when choosing breast implants, and my previous blog on choosing the right breast implants may help you understand other types of implants and what to consider. There are many factors involved and it’s important that you discuss the right implants for you. I highly recommend talking to as many women as possible who have had surgery and doing your own independent research.