Breast augmentation surgery is one of the most popular invasive cosmetic procedures in the United States. What not everyone realizes, though, is that not all breast implants are the same. This article will help women interested in breast augmentation to explore their options by introducing the different types of implants available.
The Basics of Breast Implants
The first thing that future patients should know is that not every plastic surgeon has experience with all of the types of implants available to today’s patients, and not every patient will be able to choose from all of them, anyway. For those who are ready to schedule a consultation already, the first step is to check out charlotteplasticsurgery.com and learn about the types of breast augmentation procedures performed in Charlotte, in particular. Otherwise, read on to get a broad overview of the choices.
Choices of Materials
There are three primary options when it comes to materials for breast implants. None of them is inherently better than the other. Rather, each has unique benefits and drawbacks.
Saline implants have been in use for decades. They were the first type of implant developed by doctors for use in cosmetic surgery and consisted of a silicone outer shell holding a saline solution. Though this implant type has been around for a while, it remains one of the most popular options.
Saline is a saltwater solution that is completely harmless to the body. What that means is women who get saline implants don’t have to worry about damage in the unlikely event that one of their implants ruptures. Saline implants can also be inserted empty and filled after placement, which means the incision is smaller. This approach also gives women maximum customization options.
Silicone implants also feature silicone shells but they contain a liquid silicone gel instead of saline. They feel softer than saline implants and more natural, though that doesn’t mean they’re inherently preferable.
Women can choose from many different sizes, but silicone implants come pre-filled. What that means is that the surgeon must make a larger incision to insert each implant. Some women find that this downside is outweighed by the fact that silicone implants come in both round and tear-drop shapes, offering a different kind of customizability.
Cohesive-gel implants come pre-filled and feel very soft. Unlike silicone and saline implants, though, they are semi-solid and retain their shape when cut. Some people refer to them as gummy bear implants as a result.
The difference in consistency between cohesive-gel implants and saline or silicone alternatives means that they can’t leak if ruptured. This type of implant also offers a middle ground between silicone and saline when it comes to firmness.
Smooth vs. Textured Implants
Smooth implants feel very soft and can move within the implant pocket, which many patients feel gives them a more natural movement. However, they may form visible rippling beneath the skin.
Textured implants are designed to develop scar tissue around them after insertion, which makes them less likely to move around. Textured implants also come with the advantage of reducing the risk of developing an uncomfortably tight scar capsule, which could prevent the need for additional procedures in the future.
Round vs. Form-Stable Implants
Round implants have the same shape all over, whereas form-stable implants come in several configurations, with most shaped like teardrops. Most experts recommend round implants because they make the breasts appear fuller. Since they are fully symmetrical, there’s also less risk of rotating out of place.
Round implants can be made from either saline or silicone. Patients should choose the one that offers the feel that best matches their desired results. Those who want form-stable, teardrop-shaped implants are more restricted in their choice of material. These implants are always made from cohesive gel.
Factors to Consider When Choosing an Implant Type
Choosing the right type of implant isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. Patients should take the time to discuss options thoroughly with their surgeons, who can help with deciding which of the implant types will best meet a patient’s needs. Factors that they will consider include:
- Desired shape and feel
- Skin elasticity
- Health history
- Risk tolerance
Prior implant history
The patient will always have the final say regarding which type of implant to use. However, they should take their surgeons’ advice seriously. Plastic surgeons who specialize in breast augmentations often have years of experience informing their recommendations.
How Implant Choice Affects Placement
Most patients don’t consider the fact that their choice of implants will directly impact how they are placed, but surgeons are acutely aware of this fact. Women who choose saline implants are usually best off with submuscular placements to encourage a softer feel after surgery. Those who want silicone or cohesive gel can choose either submuscular or sub-glandular placement.
Saline implants with submuscular placement offer a greater level of upper pole fullness, which creates a very specific look. The best way to decide whether it’s an appropriate option is to ask the surgeon to look at some before-and-after pictures.
How Implant Choice Affects Incisions
The type of implant chosen also impacts incision location, which has both aesthetic and practical implications. Saline implants can be inserted using either a peri-areolar or a trans-axillary incision, with the former made around the areola and the latter placed in the armpit. Silicone or cohesive-gel implants can’t generally be inserted using trans-axillary incisions and are better suited to inframammary incisions that follow the crease under the breast. Patients who have strong feelings about where their incisions are located should bring this concern up with their surgeons before deciding which materials and implant shapes they want.
For Best Results, Defer to Professionals
The best way for patients to get the results they want is to develop a clear idea of what their breasts should look and feel like post-surgery. This information is very helpful to surgeons, who can make expert, informed recommendations based on those desires. The final choice will always be left up to the patient, but most women only get breast augmentations once. Plastic surgeons often perform hundreds of them throughout their careers.