Breast Implants

submuscular breast implants

Breast augmentation is one of the most popular types of plastic surgery. Each year, more than 250,000 women undergo this procedure, getting breast implants to increase the size of their breasts. The implant itself consists of a shell made of silicone, filled either with a silicone gel or a solution of saline. The purpose of the implants is to enlarge the apparent size of the breast.

Many women find that determining the right size, shape, and type of breast implant is one of the hardest steps of planning their procedure. While the plastic surgeon will consult with the patient to determine the best implant to use, it can be helpful to have an understanding of breast implants prior to this meeting.

Breast implants come in a number of different sizes, measured in ccs. The size of the implant itself does not correspond to a certain cup size, since the final size and shape of the breasts is dependent on the patient's natural breast size. However, many surgeons have prosthetic breasts that can be tried on to help patients determine the right implant size for their desired outcome.

Saline vs Silicone

From 1992 to 2006, saline was the only option for women in the U.S. seeking breast augmentation for cosmetic reasons. Many women still have the idea that silicone implants are more dangerous than saline ones, although scientific studies have found them to be comparable. Both types have their own advantages, as well as a few trade-offs. The major difference for many women is that silicone gel-filled implants feel softer and more natural when compared with saline implants.

During the Breast Augmentation Procedure

Breast implants are placed in the body after the surgeon creates an incision. The incision length depends on the size and type of the implant. In general, silicone implants require a slightly longer incision because they are less flexible. The implant may be placed above or below the chest muscle. Once inside the body, the implants are positioned with the goal of creating the look and feel of natural breasts. The incisions are then closed with sutures.

Most breast implants, whether silicone or saline, have an expected lifespan of about ten to twenty years, at which point they should be removed or replaced. If an implant ruptures, revision surgery will be required to replace the implant. Saline ruptures are apparent almost immediately, while silicone implants tend to rupture silently, and can take longer to detect.

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