Are Foam (polyuthrene) Implants Safe?

Are foam implants safe? Are they more similar to saline or silicone? A doctor that has been recomended to me says they have a lower rate of complications. I live in the UK and am concerned that they dont seem to be in use in the US.

Doctor Answers 4

Polyurethane covered implants

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First, I would be concerned if anyone guarantees the safety of any particular implant to you.  All any surgeon can tell you is whether studies have been able to show risks or not from a particular substance such as the polyurethane coating.  Studies do not "prove" anything.

As for PU-covered implants, they are not available in Canada/US, as polyurethane breaks down into a toluene derivative which causes sarcomas in rats. The polyurethane coating in the implants you are mentioning separate from the implant over time and become incorporated in the capsule that forms around your implant.

Polyurethane coated impants have extremely low contracture rates; however, the aforementioned findings have limited their use in Canada and the US.  

It is up to you to determine how concerned you are about the sarcoma risk from PU.  If you are concerned, then go with a non-PU covered implant.  Most importantly, remember that it's your choice!  If a surgeon guarantees PU safety, find another surgeon.

Warmest Regards,

Asif Pirani, MD, FRCS(C)

Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Polyurethane Foam Implant Safety - Yes

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Thank you for this important question - simple answer is YES- Polyurethane Foam implants are the safest implants made today.  Just to give you 1 aspect of the safety which is thrown around by so called experts who are uneducated.  

"• In 1995 after extensive investigation, the FDA concluded that polyurethane breast implants should not be removed from patients that have these implants and that the risk of polyurethane (if any) would be less than 1 in 1 million over the lifetime of the patient₂. Polyurethane continues to be used in many medical and surgical products throughout the world today."


Of the 2 most frequent reasons for re-operation - 1. Capsular contracture  2 Implant displacement - Polyurethane Foam implants significantly reduce the risk of capsular contracture more than any other implant over 10 years.  Also, ployurethane implants do not displace so completely removing the risk of this.


I hope that this is helpful.  Good luck. 

Are polyurethane foam implants safe?

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Wow, such a simple question, not so simple answer!  All implants carry potential risks, which you must weigh up against the benefits.  Polyurethane implants are silicone implants with a foam coating, so they are more similar to silicone than saline implants.


The question of safety is raised because of concerns about them causing cancer, although it is not clear whether this is a significant risk or not.  The benefit of these implants is that they are much less likely to develop capsular contracture, which is hardening around the implant.  This means that you are less likely to need revision surgery in the future, and so from this point of view they are safer.


You need to do your research (the website for the implants is and talk to your surgeon about this, then you can make an informed decision.  Good luck.

Polyurethane implants are not approved in US/Canada

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Polyurethane implants were developed and found to have a decreased contracture rate. However the breakdown of the polyurethane may be carcinogenic and therefore has not been widely accepted.
Given the recent problems with PIP implants, I would recommend you choose a company that puts emphasis on patient safety above all else, such as Mentor or Allergan.

Martin Jugenburg, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 521 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.