Breast augmentation continues to be one of the most popular elective cosmetic procedures in the U.S. today. About 300,000 women get cosmetic breast implants each year, adding to millions who already have them.
Those are pretty impressive numbers. But the numbers do not make the decision any less important.
Breast augmentation is a major investment for many reasons, and we want to make sure that you’ve got all the information you need to make the best decision.
So, consider these 5 important factors before deciding on your breast augmentation procedure:
1. Silicone Gel vs. Saline vs. Structured Saline
Silicone gel implants, often called “gummy bear” implants, are made with thick, semi-cohesive silicone gel designed to mimic the feel of human tissue. Silicone implants come from the manufacturer pre-filled and therefore require a larger incision. If a silicone gel implant ruptures, it is silent, which means you will not be aware of the rupture. Because of “silent rupture” risks, regular MRIs or ultrasound scans are recommended for women who choose silicone gel implants to monitor the integrity of their implants. In their document titled Breast Implants – Certain Labeling Recommendations to Improve Patient Communication, the FDA states about silicone gel implants: “Even if you have no symptoms, you should have your first ultrasound or MRI at 5-6 years after your initial implant surgery and then every 2-3 years thereafter. If you have symptoms at any time or uncertain ultrasound results for breast implant rupture, an MRI is recommended.”
Saline Implants are filled with sterile saline (salt water) and have no structure to support them. They behave much like a water balloon. Saline implants are inserted through small incisions as they are placed into the breast pocket empty and then inflated by your surgeon with sterile saline to your desired size. If a saline implant ruptures, you know immediately as the implant deflates. Meanwhile, unlike with silicone gel, your body absorbs the harmless sterile saline.
Structured Saline implants, also called IDEAL IMPLANTS, are also filled with sterile saline but contain a structure inside for support. It consists of multiple layers, or baffles, that control the movement of the saline and allow for a natural look and feel. They are inserted through a small incision and placed into the breast pocket empty, then inflated by your surgeon with sterile saline to your desired size. If an IDEAL IMPLANT ruptures, you know immediately by looking at your breast, and the saline is safely absorbed by the body. IDEAL IMPLANTS deliver the same natural look and feel of silicone gel with the safety and peace of mind that comes with saline—what’s not to love!
2. Silent Rupture Risks
Risk of silent rupture lies ONLY with silicone gel implants and does not exist with saline or structured saline implants. When a silicone breast implant ruptures, it will go unnoticed because the silicone gel initially remains in the surrounding scar tissue or capsule. Further down the road, you may experience signs that your silicone implant has ruptured which can include changes in breast shape and size, increased pain, firmness or swelling. Regular MRIs and ultrasound scans are recommended for women who choose silicone breast implants to screen for silent rupture.
There is no risk of silent rupture with saline and structured saline implants. If an implant ruptures, you know immediately just by looking in the mirror.
3. Desired Breast Size
Breast implants come in a variety of shapes and sizes, measured in ccs. When making decisions about the look of your desired result, consider your unique body physique and talk to your plastic surgeon about the best size for your body frame.
Saline and structured saline implants offer more options when determining size as they are adjustable. Your surgeon may be able to offer more size options with these types of implants and adjust fill volumes in each of your implants to improve symmetry of your breasts.
4. The Surgical Incision
The type of implant determines the size of the incision needed. Silicone implants, as they are prefilled prior to placement, require a larger surgical incision, and therefore leave you with a larger scar.
Saline and structured saline implants require a smaller incision as they are placed into the body empty and then filled. These implants are known to leave a smaller scar.
No matter what type of implant you choose, remember that every person heals differently, so your scar may look different from someone else with the same type of implant.
5. Your Surgeon Choice
After you’ve done your research and decided which implants are best, now it’s time to decide on the best person for the procedure. DO MORE RESEARCH. Review before and after pictures. Talk to other women who have had breast implants. Learn about their surgeons. Don’t be afraid to schedule initial consults with multiple surgeons to find one with whom you are most comfortable. Make sure your surgeon shows you all three types of breast implants during your consultation: silicone gel, saline, and structured saline. Remember you have choices, and your comfort and needs are what matter most.
We hope this list of “5 Factors to Consider for Breast Augmentation” serves as a helpful tool and empowers you to make the best possible choice to fit your lifestyle. Educated patients are happier patients!