Types of Breast Implants
Saline breast implants are filled with sterile salt water. Should the implant shell leak, a saline implant will collapse and the saline will be absorbed and naturally expelled by the body. Saline breast implants provide a uniform shape, firmness and feel, and are FDA-approved for augmentation in women age 18 or older.
Silicone breast implants are filled with silicone gel. The gel feels a bit more like natural breast tissue. If the implant leaks, the gel may remain within the implant shell, or may escape into the breast implant pocket. A leaking implant filled with silicone gel will not collapse. If you choose silicone implants, you may need to visit your plastic surgeon regularly to make sure the implants are functioning properly. An ultrasound or MRI screening can assess the condition of breast implants. Silicone breast implants are FDA-approved for augmentation in women age 22 or older.
Form-stable implants are sometimes referred to as gummy bear breast implants because they maintain their shape even when the implant shell is broken. The consistency of the silicone gel inside the implant is thicker than traditional silicone gel implants. These implants are also firmer than traditional implants, but are thought to be less likely to break. Gummy bear breast implants are more teardrop shaped than round. They have more projection at the bottom and are tapered towards the top. If a shaped implant rotates, it may lead to an unusual appearance of the breast. Placement of gummy bear implants requires a longer incision in the skin.
Round breast implants have a tendency to make breasts appear fuller than form-stable implants. Higher profile options can achieve even more projection. Because round implants are the same shape all over, there is less concern about them rotating out of place. Smooth breast implants are the softest feeling. These implants can move with the breast implant pocket, which may give more natural movement. Smooth implants may have some palpable or visible rippling. Textured breast implants develop scar tissue to stick to the implant, making them less likely to move around inside of the breast and get repositioned. Texturing offers some advantage in diminishing the risk of a tight scar capsule.
A breast augmentation procedure includes the following steps: Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure to provide general anesthesia. Incisions are made in inconspicuous areas to minimize visible scarring. You and your plastic surgeon will discuss which incision options are appropriate for your desired outcome. Incisions vary based on the type of breast implant, degree of enlargement desired, your particular anatomy and patient-surgeon preference. After the incision is made, a breast implant is inserted into a pocket either under the pectoral muscle (a submuscular placement), or directly behind the breast tissue, over the pectoral muscle (a submammary/ subglandular placement). Incisions are closed with layered sutures in the breast tissue and with sutures, skin adhesive or surgical tape to close the skin. Over time the incision lines will fade.
Breast implants do not impair breast health.
Careful reviews of scientific research by independent groups such as the Institute of Medicine have found no link between breast implants and autoimmune or other systemic diseases.
Other important considerations:
Breast implants are not guaranteed to last a lifetime and future surgery may be required to replace one or both implants. Pregnancy, weight loss, and menopause may influence the appearance of augmented breasts over the course of your lifetime. Breast augmentation requires regular examinations of your breasts’ health and to evaluate the condition of your breast implants.