According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, nearly 313,000 augmentation mammoplasty were performed in the U.S. in 2018 – a 48% increase from 2000. When performed by a trained and licensed breast implant specialist, breast implant surgery can produce aesthetically pleasing and satisfactory results. Better materials and improved technologies have also made this type of surgery safe and effective. However, there are still important considerations to keep in mind.
What You Should Know Before Getting Breast Implants
There are critical factors to consider before undergoing breast implants. These factors will help determine the results and how well the surgery will turn out.
Breast augmentation is a surgical procedure and like all types of surgeries, carries a certain level of risk and complications. The patient’s age, health, emotional and psychological condition, and lifestyle are considered carefully as part of the surgeon’s assessment prior to surgery.
There are three common types of breast implants. These are:
Silicone implants are made with a viscous medical-grade silicone gel encased in elastomer silicone shells. Silicone breast implants are recommended for patients who do not have a significant amount of natural breast tissue or those who have little body fat. This type of implant is less likely to leak compared to other implants, and is preferred by many doctors and patients because of its similarity to the feel of natural breast tissue.
The shells of these implants are made from elastomer silicone which are filled with a sterile salt or saline solution. The shells can be filled with any amount of solution desired, allowing doctors to “customize” the size and shape of the breast to the patient’s needs. Saline is safe for the body to absorb, which means any leakage is not likely to cause harm. This type of implant also requires smaller incisions, which means there is less scarring. On the down side, saline breast implants do not have the natural “feel” of breasts that can only be achieved with silicone implants.
Composite implants are shells filled with alternative materials, such as soy oil or polypropylene string. The latter type is made of material that is fluid-absorbent, which causes it to continue to expand after surgery. Due to complications and increased risks to health, these types of implants are no longer popular.
The patient has to be at least 18 years old to have saline breast implants and at least 22 for silicone implants.
In most cases, general anesthesia is used and the patient remains asleep during the procedure. In a few cases, local anesthesia is applied and the patient remains awake.
There are different incision options available for the patient. The most common are: inframmammary incision (incision along the crease under the breast), periareolar incision (incision around the nipples), and transaxillary incision (incision in the armpit. The type of incision will depend on the anatomy of the patient, the preference of both the doctor and the patient, type of implant, and size of implants.
Breast implants do not last a lifetime, regardless of the material used. In time, the implants will have to be removed and replaced with new implants. In case of leakage or other concerns where removal is necessary, surgery will be required.
The patient may be given painkillers to alleviate the pain, and will be instructed to rest and avoid vigorous physical activities. Some sutures are absorbable and will dissolve on their own in 6 weeks. If the sutures are non-absorbable, the patient will be required to go back to their doctor to have them removed. Instructions for the patient’s care, management, and follow-up visits will be provided by the doctor as well.