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Frequently Asked Questions About Breast Implants


  • What exactly is a breast implant?
    A breast implant is a sac (implant shell) of silicone elastomer which is typically filled with either silicone gel or saline solution. Breast augmentation and reconstruction surgeons implant these shells under breast tissue or under the chest muscle to create a bust line that feels and looks fuller. MENTOR® Gel Breast Implants and Saline Breast Implants come in a variety of shapes, sizes, profiles and surface textures to achieve the best results for any body type.
  • Saline-Filled Breast Implants
    Saline Implants are elastomer shells filled with saline (a saltwater solution) that is very similar to the fluid that makes up most of the human body. Saline Implants are inserted into the body without fluid and then filled with the saline fluid through a fill-tube during the operation to adjust and achieve optimal volume. MENTOR® SPECTRUM™ Saline-filled Breast Implants also allow for adjustments after operation.
  • MemoryGel™ Breast Implants
    MemoryGel™ Breast Implants contain the current generation of silicone. They are pre-filled with Mentor's proprietary cohesive silicone gel — neither a liquid nor a semi-liquid — that holds uniformly together to deliver that “natural feel” that more closely resembles breast tissue.
  • What is the average life expectancy of a breast implant?
    It’s important to know that breast implants don’t last a lifetime. While it varies from woman to woman, it is likely they may need to be replaced at some time. Replacement is usually prompted by choice, such as a size change or an implant style change. Some women have a breast replacement because of a complication, such as deflation or rupture. For specific safety and effectiveness information, refer to the product information provided with the implant, or ask your surgeon.
  • What is silicone?
    Silicone is derived from silicon, a semi-metallic or metal-like element that in nature combines with oxygen to form silicon dioxide, or silica. Beach sand, crystals and quartz are silica. Silica is the most common substance on earth. Heating silica with carbon at a high temperature can produce silicon. Further processing can convert the silicon into a long chemical chain, or polymer, called silicone, which can be a liquid, a gel or a rubbery substance. Various silicones are used in lubricants and oils as well as in silicone elastomers. Silicone can be found in many common household items, such as chewing gum, nail polishes, suntan and hand lotions, antiperspirants, bath soaps and processed foods.
  • Are silicone implants safe?
    For the past several years, there have been many reports in the media about women with breast implants who have autoimmune disease or breast cancer. Also during this time, many respected medical professionals and institutions have conducted scientific studies about the safety of breast implants. Mentor is pleased to be able to provide the public with up-to-date information about breast implant studies.

    Institute of Medicine - In June 1999, the National Academy Institute of Medicine issued a report that included the following conclusion: "In an overall consideration of the epidemiological evidence, the committee noted that because there are more than 1.5 million adult women of all ages in the United States with silicone breast implants, some of these women would be expected to develop connective tissue diseases, cancer, neurological diseases or other systemic complaints or conditions. Evidence suggests that such diseases or conditions are no more common in women with breast implants than in women without implants." The full text of the publication, "Information for Women About the Safety of Silicone Breast Implants – A Report of a Study by the Institute of Medicine," is available online at www.nap.edu.

    Independent Review Group - The Independent Review Group (IRG) on Silicone Breast Implants was assembled by the Chief Medical Officer of the UK to review the possible health issues associated with silicone gel breast implants. Members of the IRG were selected for their independent views, their knowledge and understanding of the issues, and lack of any financial interest in the conclusions they reached.
    Led by Professor Roger D. Sturrock, MD, FRCP, the IRG reported in 1998 that there is no scientific evidence of an association between silicone gel-filled breast implants and any established connective tissue disease. The complete report is available on the Internet at www.silicone-review.gov.uk.

    European Committee on Quality Assurance - In July 1998, the European Committee on Quality Assurance and Medical Devices in Plastic Surgery released a report that contained the following conclusions: "There are conclusive scientific—clinical, immunological, epidemiological—data, that silicone gel-filled breast implants do not cause any autoimmune nor connective tissue diseases." Their report also stated, "Updated studies continue to show that silicone gel-filled implants do not cause cancer nor other malignant disease." The entire declaration can be found on the internet at www.ibir.org/equam/archive/consdecjune2000final.doc.
  • Is it possible to have an allergic reaction to silicone?
    Silicone allergies are quite rare, but it’s just as possible to be allergic to anything science or mother-nature created. The truth is we are all exposed to silicone in our environment every day. It is found in many household items, such as chewing gum, nail varnishes, suntan and hand lotions, antiperspirants, bath soaps and processed foods.
  • Do MENTOR® Breast Implants include latex?
    No. Because latex allergies are so common, Mentor never uses latex in any of the breast implants we manufacture.
  • Is there active platinum in breast implants?
    The manufacture of silicone breast implant shells and gel fill does include using platinum as a catalyst. Because small amounts of platinum remain in the product following its manufacture, concerns have been raised that platinum may enter the body and cause adverse effects—either by diffusing through the intact shell or through an implant rupture. *source: www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/ImplantsandProsthetics/BreastImplants/UCM064040
  • How do breast implants affect mammography?
    Breast implants can add some difficulty to routine screenings for breast cancer. The implant may interfere with finding breast cancer during mammography and generally requires additional X-rays – and unfortunately, more exposure to radiation. That being said, if you are of the proper age for mammography screening, you should absolutely continue to undergo routine mammography screenings as recommended by your main doctor. When you do, be sure to inform the mammography technologist that you have implants.
  • What effect does smoking have on the healing process following an operation?
    Smoking can compromise recovery by causing the blood vessels to constrict, reducing blood flow and the oxygen it carries to the surgical area. Your tissues need this blood and oxygen supply to heal properly. When your blood supply is reduced, tissues heal more slowly and irregularly. That’s why doctors ask patients to refrain from smoking for one to five weeks prior to your operation. It is important that you ask your doctor what his or her specific recommendation for you would be.
  • When can I fly and/or scuba dive?
    Once fully recovered, you can feel free to scuba dive and fly in airplanes with some minor considerations, since there may be slight expansion and contraction of the shell with changes in pressure. With Saline-filled Implants, this may result in a minimal amount of air bubbles in the implant, and you may feel or hear fluid sounds (gurgling). This should correct itself within 24 to 48 hours.
  • How much do breast implants weigh?
    You can use this formula to estimate the weight of your MemoryGel™ Breast Implants and Saline-filled Breast Implants: 1 ounce = 30 cc’s. Example: A 300 cc implant = 10 ounces
  • How do cc’s compare to cup size?
    cc volumes do not accurately translate to bra cup sizes.
  • What do breast implant catalogue numbers mean?
    The first three numbers indicate whether the type of shell is smooth or textured:
    • 350 = smooth; 354 = textured.
    • The 0 indicates smooth; the 4 indicated textured
    To look up your catalogue number, click here.
  • Are MENTOR® Breast Implants covered by a warranty?
    Your peace of mind is important to us. All MENTOR® Breast Implants products come with Mentor Lifetime Product Replacement Policy which provides free lifetime product replacement of our gel-filled and saline-filled breast implants, worldwide. When implant replacement is required and the Mentor Lifetime Product Replacement Policy applies, Mentor will provide, throughout the patient’s lifetime, the same or similar MENTOR® Breast Implants at no cost. If a more expensive product is requested, Mentor will invoice your surgeon for the price difference.

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