Before and After Breast Augmentation Photos by Dr. Elizabeth Harris, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, San Antonio & New Braunfels, TX. Descriptions include time post-op, implant type and size, height, weight, and age.
Breast Augmentation Options: What’s Right for You?
Women need to consider a number of breast augmentation options before they commit to this procedure. Many people mistakenly think that the resulting size of the breasts is the only factor involved in the decision-making process. In fact, breast implant patients need to consider which type of implant that they want, and they also need to consult with their doctors about where and how the implants will be inserted into their breasts.
Breast surgery is not as simple as choosing a cup size before lying down on the operating table. Doctors can help their patients to compare their body size and contours to help determine exactly what size of implant would work best. Some sizes may be too large and disproportionate. Achieving the ideal size is also more complicated than simply choosing how much silicone or saline to implant. The ideal size is determined by the breast appearance, breast measurements, and body frame size.
There are two types of breast implants. Patients have a choice between saline solution and silicone gel. Each has been around since the 1960’s and each has its own advantages and disadvantages for implantation.
- Silicone gel implants were the primary type of breast implant used after their invention by two American surgeons, Thomas Cronin and Frank Gerow, in 1961. Men and women immediately appreciated implants based on silicone because of their natural feel and appearance when compared to those other substances.
However, there was some controversy surrounding these types of implants in the 1990s. A number of women claimed that their physical ailments, such as autoimmune diseases, were caused by silicone leaking from their breast implants. A legal verdict in 2006 denied that there was any connection between silicone implants and such illnesses. The FDA considers silicone gel implants to be safe.
- Saline solution implants were invented a few years after silicone implants, but they were in second place among breast augmentation options until the 1990s. During part of that decade, silicone implants were banned in the US and saline solutions were the only legal possibility for first time augmentation patients. Saline implants have a high patient satisfaction rate but look and feel rounder and firmer than silicone gel implants. They are not ideal for women who begin with a small quantity of breast tissue. They also have a greater tendency to wrinkle and thus may appear obvious.
Inserting breast implants into a woman’s chest is not simple or straightforward. There are many possible approaches. Each approach has its own purpose and its own validity for different patients. You can characterize implant surgeries by the location of their incisions and the area in which they are placed.
- The inframammary incision is preferred for silicone implants. It exposes the pectoralis muscle. However, it also tends to create more noticeable scars post-surgery.
- Periareolar incisions are made around the border of the nipple or areola. Scars are much less noticeable because they blend into the areolar region. This approach is ideal when a breast lift is in order, as well as an actual augmentation. However, silicone implants are difficult to put in place using this procedure because the incision is so small.
- The transaxillary incision is made in the armpit. If you want to avoid visible scars, this approach is ideal because there are no incisions made near the breasts at all. Due to the angle of the placement, though, post-surgical asymmetry is more likely.
- The transumbilical approach is similar to the transaxillary in that it places implants without making incisions near the breasts. Instead, doctors insert the implants through an incision made near the navel. This is not a viable route for silicone implants, which cannot be compressed. This is not a commonly used incision. At one time, the use of this incision negated the implant warranty.
Patients should go over each of these breast augmentation options and others with their surgeons. With such a variety of options, you can be sure that there is something that is right for you.