Breast augmentation continues to be the world’s most popular cosmetic procedure. This surgery can help women to enhance their self-image. Here we answer the common questions about types of implants and their complications and try to make the journey as clear as it can be for you.
Some women have smaller breasts than they wish to. Some women’s breasts can droop with age or after pregnancy, breastfeeding and weight loss. Some individuals have asymmetric breasts. And some women may lose one or two of their breasts due to breast cancer (mastectomy). This surgery can help women to enhance their self-image and to feel more confident.
Breast implants are a type of prosthesis which is placed in breasts to change the size and shape or reconstruct the breasts.
Types of breast implants available
A breast implant is a cosmetic prosthesis that is placed inside the breast to enhance the physical form of breasts.
Breast implants can be saline or silicone-based or other compounds. However, only saline and silicone-based implants are approved by the US FDA. Both of these implants are filled inside a silicone shell.
Each of these implants has their benefits. Saline based implants can be used in women over 18 years old, while silicone-based are confirmed for women over 22 years old. On the other hand, many women feel that silicone breast implants more closely mimic the look and feel of natural breast tissue.
Complications and risks
Implants can have short-term and long-term risks and complications. Woman thinking about getting breast implants needs to be aware of these complications.
Short-term complications are mostly due to surgery, which are breast or nipple pain, infection, swelling and bruises. US FDA studies show that these complications happen more with women with reoperation after years but less with first augmentations. Silicone based implants cause less pain than saline based implants after augmentation.
Breast implants will not interfere with childbirth and most women who have had implants are able to successfully breastfeed if they choose to do so. Although, breasts, whether they are augmented or not, will often lose volume and fall after the increase and subsequent decrease in size after childbirth and breast feeding. This volume loss may occur due to natural hormonal changes and may occur whether or not a woman actually breastfeeds her baby.
Studies of silicone breast implants suggest that most implants last 7-12 years, but some break during the first few years, while others last more than 15 years. Some plastic surgeon may suggest that it’s better for your implants to be replaced after 10 to 15 years. But, it does not necessarily mean that they do not last. Most of the surgeons will tell you a replacement is not necessary, as long as you aren’t experiencing any problems.
Women with saline based implants will immediately know if their implant break and they will easily remove it but many women with silicone gel implants are unaware that their implants are broken. Which is why it’s important to report any problem and do regular checkups after augmentation. Magnetic resonance imaging is the most accurate way to detect a rupture. Mammograms are often inaccurate in detecting rupture, and if an implant is already broken, the pressure from a mammogram could cause the silicone gel from the implant to leak outside the capsule.
There are no scientific links between breast cancer and breast implants. There is no research evidence that implants cause breast cancer. However, implants can interfere with detection of breast cancer. Breast cancer surveillance and mammograms after breast implants are easier to perform for implants placed underneath the muscle. But you still can have an ultrasound or an MRI to get a complete and clear exam.
The FDA has approved variety of saline and silicone based implants after years of clinical trials to assure their safety. But it’s important for you to know that you can’t find any surgical procedure with its own complications.
Types of procedures for breast implants
Before surgery, the surgeon should help the patient choose the size of the implant needed. It depends on a lot of factors such as your body contour. It’s important to discuss your wishes with your surgeon. Some surgeons might even have computer software that will allow you to preview what you would look like with various sized implants.
A general anesthetic is normally used, so that the patient is asleep during surgery. Sometimes local anesthetic is used, and the patient is awake.
There are 4 different incision sites:
Most of the implants are placed through an incision around the nipple or underneath the breast. The advantage of these sites that the surgeon can shape the implants better from these sites. This provides a greater chance of a better result and a more natural breast. Another benefit is that these sites can hide the scars really good, as it’s like you never had any surgery on your breasts.
Inserting and placing implant
The implants may go under or over the pectoral muscle. Most surgeons place breast implants under the chest muscle as this provides a more natural shape. It is also a better choice in women who are thinner or women who request larger implants. The implants that are placed over the muscle directly underneath the breast will look more like an implant and look more full and round. Women with sagging can put their implants over the muscle to avoid a breast lift surgery.
Closing the incisions
The surgeon closes the incisions with layered sutures, or stitches, in the breast tissue. Stitches, skin adhesives, and surgical tape close the skin and keep it closed. At first, the incision lines will be visible, but these will fade with time.
Recovery and considerations for breast implant procedure
The technology on breast implants have developed to a point where it’s possible for implants to look entirely natural. It is directly related to your own choices. It’s important to choose a professional and certifies plastic surgeon with good resume on this subject. An experienced plastic surgeon will tailor your breast augmentation to suit your unique body and your individual goals.
Women who have implants sometimes decide to have them removed because of complications or disappointment with how they look or feel. The good news is that the implants can be removed or reconstructed.