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Silicon scandal: what’s in the breast implant?

breast implant

Autologous fat, hyaluronic acid, soybean oil: There are a number of options for breast surgery – but these do not always prove to be particularly practical. Silicone is still the most popular to this day, but not without risk.

Silicone is a natural material. It is based on silicon, which is the second most common element on earth after oxygen. It occurs, for example, in stones, in clay and in sand.

Medical silicone contains no plasticizers and is used for implants, but also for other products. This includes wound dressings and various coatings, such as those required for puncture needles or catheters.

Popular silicone pillows

90 percent of all breast implants are made of silicone gel. These are silicone pillows in various sizes and weights. The silicone is so-called cohesive – dimensionally stable – silicone. Most surgeons use this type.

The cohesive silicone can have different strengths and ranges from one to three. It is still being discussed which degree of strength achieves the best result. It is usually the surgeon who decides which strength level is best for the woman. A breast implant with the lowest cohesive grade comes closest to the shape of the natural breast.

What are the risks?

A silicone implant is a foreign body to which some women react negatively. There may be hardening, a hard capsule, which in turn can lead to inflammation. The chest hardens or deforms. Capsular fibrosis is one of the most common side effects. If silicone escapes into the capsule pocket, lumps can form that irritate the tissue. This causes pain to the woman and she needs medical attention. Modern casings are intended to largely prevent the risk of capsular fibrosis.


Saline implants together with autologous fat transplants make up about ten percent of all fillings. This type is far inferior to silicone. Water is more liquid than silicone and it can be sweated out of the implant. The implants lose volume over time. Women even reported that it sometimes “chuckles” in the chest – maybe uncomfortable, but not dangerous. This is a proven method as an interim solution for women who had to have their breast amputated due to breast disease.

Proponents of saline solutions argue that if the outer shell is damaged, it simply collapses. The saline solution that then escapes can be easily removed from the body and is finally excreted in the urine.

own fat

The method of enlarging the breast using autologous fat has not yet been successful. It has not been sufficiently researched. The doctor takes fat cells from another part of the body. You will then be injected into the chest. Most women have their fat cells removed where they think they are disturbing and that they can not get rid of fat deposits even on a strict diet, for example on the thighs. It is a transplant. Accordingly, not all cells grow, but only about 60 to 70 percent.

Breast augmentation with autologous fat carries risks such as thickening or calcification. This can cause problems in breast cancer screening. In addition, it is not entirely clear whether the transplantation of stem cells from one’s own adipose tissue could promote the formation of tumors.

Breast implants Berlin (Photo: picture-alliance / dpa / B.Pedersen)Most breast implants are made of silicone

hyaluronic acid

It has been the miracle cure in the cosmetics industry for years, helps with wrinkles and aging processes. But this method was also not used for long. The concerns: The hyaluronic acid could lead to a wrong x-ray finding in a cancer diagnosis. The manufacturer has withdrawn hyaluronic acid from the market for breast augmentation and is no longer offered for this purpose. But hyaluronic acid is increasingly found in cosmetics.


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Bio in the chest

For a short time there were also attempts with alternative methods. Implants filled with soybean or rapeseed oil. They also no longer exist. Scientists had not ruled out that decomposition could lead to carcinogenic degradation products. Sometimes the fillings even became rancid and emitted an unpleasant smell through the skin.

Not just beautiful and sexy

Breast implants – contrary to common prejudices – are not only there to model well-shaped, large breasts à la Dolly Buster from a small breast. Especially for women who have had one or both breasts removed after cancer, a subsequent breast operation can be very important psychologically. First, a so-called expander is used. This should stretch the tissue to such an extent that an implant can later be placed under the skin. An expander is a plastic bag that is slightly smaller than the later implant. This bag can be refilled step by step using a valve that is accessible to the doctor from the outside. If the skin is then stretched sufficiently for a prosthesis implant, the pouch is removed and the corresponding implant is inserted.

Icon picture breast operation new (photo: icon picture)The course of the incision is determined before the operation

For women who suffer from extremely large breasts and sometimes even back problems, breast surgery is more than just a cosmetic operation. The same applies to deformations. Breast surgery is not only used for pure beauty and attractiveness, but is also often medically justified.

No matter why women underwent breast surgery, many of them have found after years that they have been implanted with industrial silicone. The pillow contains the lubricant Bayilone – a petroleum product – but also siloprene and Rhodorsil. These two substances are used in the rubber industry. Many women got implants with adulterated gel instead of medical silicone.

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