Choosing a Breast Implant for Breast Augmentation
The process of planning plastic surgery can be a complex one. You have to decide on a procedure, a surgeon, a schedule, and more. Once you have chosen which procedure you want, there are sometimes decisions you’ll need to make about the details of your surgery, too. Breast augmentation is a perfect example. Beyond the choices listed above, you’ll also need to select your breast implants. As a double board-certified plastic surgeon who has been working with breast implants for over thirty years, I’m happy to provide some insight into the various types and sizes of breast implants.
Types & Materials
When surgeons and patients talk about “types of implants,” they’re really referring to the material that each breast implant uses. There are four primary options:
- Saline implants – a silicone shell filled with sterile saltwater
- Structured saline implants – a saline implant with a structure inside, so that it has a slightly more stable shape than a typical saline breast implant
- Silicone implants – a silicone shell filled with a silicone gel that is thicker and more similar to natural breast tissue than saline
- Cohesive gel silicone implants (or “gummy bear” implants) – a silicone implant with a thicker, more solid silicone gel inside than a typical silicone implant would have, so that it holds a rather stable shape
Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages of each type of breast implant. Saline implants can be filled and adjusted during surgery, allowing for a smaller incision and a bit more customization in sizing. Silicone implants, on the other hand, tend to feel more natural and exhibit less leakage in the case of a rupture. Cohesive gel silicone implants can also provide a slightly more youthful shape to the breasts.
Along with picking the type of implant you want, you’ll also need to choose a size. While some plastic surgery patients say, “I want to go up two cup sizes,” breast implants are actually measured in “cc’s” (or cubic centimeters). There is no “standard” implant size—every patient needs to decide for herself what type of size improvement she’s looking for. A petite woman with an AA cup, for instance, may be happy with just 150 cc’s, while a taller woman with a larger frame who is starting at a C cup would see little noticeable change from that size of implant. However, I generally advise patients against going for the extreme. Breasts tend to sag much more with larger implants, making you more likely to want a breast lift at a younger age. Plus, just as women with naturally large breasts can experience back pain, shoulder pain, and other discomforts, women with very large implants may develop similar issues.
How to Choose
There’s no Cosmo-style quiz to tell you what size and type of breast implant you should choose (at least not a reliable one). There are a number of factors to consider, like your medical history, your aesthetic goals, your natural frame and current size, your existing breast tissue, your preferences for scarring, etc. This is why an in-person consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon is the only way to truly know which options are best suited for you.
Ultimately, plastic surgery (or any other cosmetic treatment, for that matter) needs to be customized for your individual needs and desired results. But here’s the good news—you don’t need to make any of these choices on your own. As a double board-certified plastic surgeon, I’m here to help you at each step of the way. To start discussing breast augmentation or any other cosmetic surgery, schedule a consultation with me. Or, for more plastic surgery tips, health news, and other information, follow me, Dr. John LeRoy on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
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