Discovering the True Cost of Breast Implants
If you’re researching “how much do breast implants cost,” chances are you are imagining all the benefits they offer. Breast augmentation is the top cosmetic plastic surgery procedure performed in the United States for a reason. Breast augmentations have a high rate of patient satisfaction according to research. In a study published in the May 2013 issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, researchers gathered information from 225 women after their breast augmentations. The study revealed that 91.1% of women felt improved self-esteem, 64.3% had an improved quality of life, and 98.7% would repeat the surgery. But there is another side to breast implants, one you should know about before scheduling your plastic surgery consultation. While the initial costs and satisfaction rates are similar between implant types, the long-term maintenance costs and emotional toll differs in important ways. Silicone gel breast implants carry a high rate of certain complications and an increased anxiety when compared to the newest breast implant on the market, IDEAL IMPLANT® Structured Breast Implants.
Primary Breast Augmentation Costs
How much do breast implants cost? That may seem like a simple question, but like many simple questions there are nuances to it. Primary breast augmentations vary based on location, surgeon, and implant you choose. The cost of a breast augmentation and any subsequent breast procedure is typically not covered by insurance companies because it is an elective, cosmetic procedure. Web MD states that the total cost for a breast augmentation surgery can range from $5,000-$10,000. According to statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons in 2017 the average cost of a breast augmentation was $3,718, however this estimate does not include things like anesthesia and other unavoidable surgical expenses. In 2017 the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery found the average surgeon fees for a breast augmentation with saline implants was $3,515. For silicone gel breast implants it rises to $4,014. Again, these average prices do not include the related medical expenses.
Breast Implant Maintenance Costs
Your primary augmentation is not the only cost you need to factor in when you are asking how much do breast implants cost. Women with silicone gel breast implants must factor in long term maintenance costs. Silicone gel breast implants can have “silent ruptures,” where an implant ruptures without showing any symptoms. The FDA recommends women with silicone gel implants get an MRI scan three years after getting their implants, then every two years for the life of the implant to detect silent ruptures. If a silicone gel implant ruptures, you will need surgery to remove the implant shell and any leaked silicone gel. It is important to remove implants that have ruptured because the silicone gel may begin to leak outside of the capsule and cause painful symptoms. The FDA lists a few of these symptoms as, “a decrease in breast size, change in breast implant shape, hard lumps over the implant or chest area, an uneven appearance of the breasts, pain or tenderness, tingling, swelling, numbness, burning, or changes in sensation.” However, because of the out-of-pocket cost of MRIs, many women skip their recommended MRI scans. According to Business Insider the average cost of an MRI is $444 to $1468. That means if a woman with silicone gel breast implants keeps up with the recommended MRIs she will pay on average $3,108 to $10,276 just for MRIs if her implants stay intact for 20 years. That puts the total cost of silicone gel breast implants closer to $10,000-$20,000 over 20 years, and even more if a revision surgery is needed.
Problems With MRIs
Unfortunately, MRIs come with issues in addition to the financial strain. While the FDA states that an MRI is the best way to detect a silent rupture, many plastic surgeons have reported that it isn’t always accurate. Dr. Sophie Bartsich, a board-certified plastic surgeon in New York, tells us,
“I’ve found that sometimes MRIs are not actually very reliable. In some instances, a patient’s MRI said the silicone gel implant had ruptured, and then when I went in to operate on it, it actually hadn’t. I’ve had one or two patients where an MRI showed the implant wasn’t ruptured, but based on my clinical exam I really thought there was a concern, so I went in and it turned out it was ruptured.”
How Much Do Breast Implants Cost Under Warranty?
Manufacturer’s warranty programs can mitigate some of the costs of treating complications. But, the warranty payment is only available if a rupture is detected. Some surgeons fail to inform their patients of the need for periodic MRIs, or downplay the FDA recommendation in order to make a sale. “Many women don’t know about the maintenance costs and potential expenses of silicone gel implants,” reports Dr. Ellen Mahony, board-certified plastic surgeon in Westport, CT. “Because rupture with a silicone gel implant is ‘silent,’ it can go undetected for an extended period, often not becoming obvious until the process of capsular contraction has begun.” Capsular contraction leads to a more complex surgery. That means added surgical costs which your warranty may not cover.
How Much Do Breast Implants Cost to Remove and Replace?
If your breast implants rupture, or you develop capsular contracture (two of the top reasons for revision surgery according to the FDA), you will need surgery to correct the issue. You can choose to remove your breast implants with or without replacement. This surgery will be similar in cost to your primary breast augmentation, or could be higher depending on the complexity. Again, health insurance companies do not usually cover costs associated with breast implants, even if you have a medical reason to remove them. As stated above, warranties may or may not cover costs as well.
Women with ruptured silicone gel implants also need to factor in downtime when asking how much do breast implants cost. Whether you take time off work, hire a babysitter for your kids, or make other accommodations while you recover from surgery, you need to factor in these costs. Dr. Jane Rowley, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Lubbock, Texas, explains the difference between removal of silicone gel implants and the IDEAL IMPLANT, “there’s a big difference between removing a ruptured IDEAL IMPLANT and a ruptured silicone gel implant. A ruptured IDEAL IMPLANT can be removed easily with a local anesthetic. A silicone gel implant, if they’re not ruptured, can come out that easy. But if they are ruptured, most of the time its stuck, and it bleeds, and you have to put drains in. So it’s not an easy recovery, it’s not an easy surgery. With an IDEAL IMPLANT I can almost guarantee them ahead of time, if your implant is leaking it will be easy to remove and replace, you will be back to work in a day or two at the most. With a silicone gel implant I’ll say, ‘I don’t know what your recovery is going to be, it might come out easily, it might not come out easily. You might need to take week off work, you might have to take two days off work.’”
The Likelihood of Subsequent Surgeries
Many women are tempted to brush aside the idea of complications when asking how much do breast implants cost, thinking it won’t happen to them. Knowing your statistical risk of complications will help you plan ahead and pick an implant that is more likely to keep you out of complex surgery in the future. For primary augmentations, silicone gel implants have a higher complication rate for both capsular contracture (10.9-16.2% at 7-8 years) and implant rupture (7.2-13.6% at 8 years), than the IDEAL IMPLANT. “The silicone gel from a ruptured implant can stick to the tissues on the chest wall and a capsulectomy is often required,” explains Dr. Mahony. “The warranty may not fully cover these costs. In contrast [for primary augmentations] structured breast implants have a capsular contracture risk of only 6.6% and a rupture risk of only 2.1% at seven years, with revision surgery generally being less invasive.” Dr. Larry Nichter, board-certified plastic surgeon in Newport Beach, California, tells us about the likelihood of subsequent surgeries with IDEAL IMPLANT saying, “It’s incredibly safe and so there’s far fewer lifetime surgeries with an IDEAL IMPLANT Structured Breast Implant, compared to silicone gel implants.”
Emotional Toll of Silicone Gel Breast Implants
In addition to the financial cost of breast implants, women need to be aware of the emotional cost when asking how much do breast implants cost. Not knowing the status of their implants can take a toll on woman’s peace of mind. Recent survey findings* showed over 98% of women reported feeling concerned about silent rupture, including many women who already had silicone gel implants. When rupture is detected, it can result in feelings of insecurity and anxiety, as they don’t know how long it has been going on or whether they could have found out sooner. Both the worry and reality of silent rupture take a real toll on a woman’s overall well being, yet too many women don’t have all the facts before making a decision about their choice of implant.
How Much Do Breast Implants Cost With IDEAL IMPLANT Structured Breast Implants?
The IDEAL IMPLANT Structured Breast Implant is often compared to silicone gel breast implants because they both offer beautiful, natural looking results. But, beyond the aesthetic comparisons, the IDEAL IMPLANT Structured Breast Implant and silicone gel breast implants are very different. The IDEAL IMPLANT Structured Breast Implant is filled with saline for a woman’s peace of mind. Saline is naturally absorbed by the body in case of a rupture, and a rupture can be easily detected by simply looking at the breasts. Without silicone gel inside there is no need for repeated MRIs and no anxiety about silent ruptures. The risk of complications such as rupture and capsular contracture are also much lower with the IDEAL IMPLANT based on clinical trial results at 8 years. That means the cost of your primary breast augmentation is likely the only cost you need to consider when asking how much do breast implants cost.
How to Choose Breast Implants
When you choose a breast implant, you are choosing a device that will be part of your body for many years. Breast implants are not lifetime devices, but if your implants do not encounter complications, there is no reason for a revision. Your implants could be with you for over 30 years, so you should spend some time weighing the benefits and compromises of each implant type. Pick an implant that you feel comfortable with, but also gives you great results. The IDEAL IMPLANT Structured Breast Implant the lowest rates of rupture and capsule contracture in primary augmentation at 8 years, but still gives women a beautiful, natural look and feel. Silicone gel breast implants give women beautiful results, but at an increased financial strain and emotional toll, Dr. Mahony tells us.
“The old saline implants offered peace of mind but a less realistic result; silicone gel implants offered a more realistic look and feel but with concerns about silent rupture as well as long term safety and complications. The timing could not be better for the structured breast implant, which uniquely offers women the benefits of natural look and feel in addition to an unparalleled safety profile and peace of mind. This would be my personal choice for breast augmentation and has become the choice the majority of informed women in my practice are making for themselves.”
Start Your Breast Augmentation Journey Today
“How much do breast implants cost” is an important question to ask before starting your breast augmentation journey. If you’re thinking about a breast augmentation, make sure you know the true cost of breast implants, not just the cost of a primary augmentation. Take into consideration the likelihood of complications, the cost of ongoing maintenance, and the anxiety you may feel not knowing the status of your implant. Beautiful, natural looking breast implants with low maintenance and low risk of complications are within your reach. For more information on the IDEAL IMPLANT Structured Breast Implant, including how you can find an IDEAL IMPLANT surgeon near you visit idealimplant.com.
*Survey presented by Dr. Vivian Ting, “What Women Want in Breast Implants,” presented at the March 2018 ASPS meeting.