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Once you have decided breast augmentation, augmentation-mastopexy, or implant-based breast reconstruction is right for you, you will need to consider what kind of breast implant best suits your desires. The information on this page can assist you in learning about all of your options, and our board-certified plastic surgeons at Florida Plastic Surgery Group will be happy to provide further details at the time of a consultation to help you determine which breast implants might be ideal for your unique aesthetic goals and expectations.

Saline Implants

Saline breast implants are a filled with saline, a naturally occurring substance in your body much like salt water. They are preferred by many women based on the many advantages; however, these breast implants have a couple disadvantages as well, including rippling and a less natural look and feel (particularly for thinner women and/or those who have minimal breast tissue).

Saline breast implants are often chosen for one of the following advantages:

  • FDA-approved for women 18 and older
  • Generally cost less than silicone implants
  • Filled to customized volumes
  • Visibility of ruptures
  • Require a smaller incision

Unlike silicone breast implants – which come pre-filled from the manufacturer – saline breast implants are empty when placed in your breast. During the breast augmentation procedure, the implant is filled with saline fluid to reach the exact volume the patient desires. Because saline implants are inserted while deflated, these implants require a relatively small incision, which results in a relatively small scar.

In the past, saline implants have been criticized for causing breasts to feel hard and unnatural. Although saline does not have the capacity to feel as close to human fat as silicone gel does, techniques such as placing the implant behind the muscle have led to more natural-feeling saline implants.

Breast implants do not necessarily rupture, but they do become more prone to rupturing as they age. When a saline implant breaks, the fluid is harmlessly absorbed into and passed through your body. An advantage to saline breast implants is that ruptures are easily detected: the breast will begin to look flat and deflated as the implant leaks, so you can easily know when to make an appointment with one of our doctors.

Silicone Implants

Filled with a cohesive silicone gel that provides a natural look and feel, silicone breast implants are the preferred option for many women who undergo breast augmentation. Although they can be used in almost every breast augmentation procedure, they are especially well-suited to women who are thinner or have petite frames.

Silicone breast implants generally offer a number of benefits over saline implants, including:

  • Silicone breast implants are less likely to wrinkle, ripple, or fold
  • Silicone breast implants tend to be more durable and are less prone to leak or rupture
  • The edges of silicone breast implants are less palpable
  • Depending on one’s body type and desired results, silicone breast implants can provide more flexibility in choosing breast contour and profile
  • Silicone breast implants typically feel softer and more natural

Silicone breast implants come to our office pre-filled from the manufacturer. The silicone is a cohesive gel that stays within the breast implant in the event of a rupture. While the gel will remain in the silicone shell in the event of a rupture or leak and will not be absorbed into the body, it will be difficult to tell if there is a problem because of this same quality. Women with silicone breast implants should have regular MRIs to make sure there is not a rupture in the breast implant.

Safety of Modern Silicone Breast Implants

Some women have concerns regarding the safety of silicone breast implants since silicone implants were temporarily removed from the market in 1992. However, after additional testing and studies showed no connection between silicone breast implants and disease, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved silicone breast implants as a safe breast augmentation option in 2006 for women age 22 and older.

During the span in which silicone breast implants were not available, a number of improvements were made to their design and durability. Today’s silicone breast implants feature a soft yet strong silicone shell that holds a thick gel that replicates the feel of natural breast tissue as opposed to the more liquid gels used in the past.

Breast Implant Placement

There are several factors that should be considered when choosing your breast implant placement, as the decision can strongly influence the final result achieved with breast augmentation, as well as the length of the recovery period. The three basic placement options are:

  • Submuscular
  • Subglandular
  • Dual Plane

Submuscular


Under the MuscleA complete submuscular position places the implant completely beneath the pectoral muscles and beneath the fascia (connective tissue), connecting the pectoral muscles to the abdominal muscles.

Subglandular


Above the MuscleSubglandular placement positions the breast implant beneath your breast tissue and above the pectoral muscles. A woman must have adequate breast tissue to achieve optimal results from this placement.

Dual Plane


Partially below and above the MuscleA dual plane placement is a combination of submuscular and subglandular, where the implant is positioned partially below muscle and partially above muscle.

Pros and Cons of Placement

Submuscular

Generally, submuscular placement leads to a more natural and subtle result because there is more coverage. Placing the breast implants beneath the muscle may have the following influences on result:

  • Creates a more natural breast slope
  • Good option for women with thin breast tissue
  • Breast implant contours are not visible
  • Lower risk of capsular contracture
  • Longer recovery
  • May take implants slightly longer to settle
  • Must wait longer to exercise chest
  • Intensive, body-building chest exercises carry the possibility of displacing the implant

Subglandular

In contrast, subglandular placement tends to have a more dramatic result because there is less implant coverage. Placing the breast implants above the muscle may affect results in the following ways:

  • Higher, rounder breast appearance
  • Good option for women with more breast tissue
  • May be a better option for women with slightly saggy breasts
  • Shorter recovery
  • Breast implant contours may be more obvious

Ultimately, each woman’s breasts differ slightly, so the only way to find out how breast implant placement will affect the final outcome of your breast augmentation is to meet with one of our plastic surgeons. At this time, your doctor can help you decide the most appropriate placement for your specific needs and desires.

Breast Implant Size

The main goal of breast augmentation is to enhance the size, volume, and overall appearance of your breasts. At the same time, many women are concerned about keeping their breasts proportionate with the rest of their bodies. No matter what kind of results you are looking for, choosing the right breast implant size is one of the most important decisions you can make before undergoing breast augmentation surgery. If your implants are too large, they will not only look more obvious, they can also lead to potential complications.

After measuring your breasts, our doctors will provide you with a range of sizes to choose from and will allow you to “try on” certain sizes using a special bra. You do not have to make a decision during your initial consultation, but most patients have their options narrowed down to around two sizes by the time they leave. You can make your final decision during your preoperative visit.

When deciding upon your breast implant size, consider some of the following factors:

Lifestyle

Larger-sized breast implants can potentially have a negative effect when it comes to certain physical activities. If you participate in yoga or sports for example, large breast implants may be somewhat of a burden.

Natural-looking Results

Keep in mind the overall aesthetic results you are hoping to achieve, and that can help you determine the best implant size for your needs. Many individuals prefer sizes that closely match the slope and proportion of a natural breast so that others can’t easily tell that they have had breast augmentation. By contrast, some women are hoping for more spherical breasts and a more dramatic look, regardless of whether they appear “fake.” Sometimes, a combination of these two aesthetic goals can also be achieved.

Risks

The risks of implant complications are often higher with larger implant sizes. One of the more notable complications that has been associated with excessively large breast implants is known as “bottoming out.” This condition is characterized by the implants settling at a very low point on the chest, resulting in the nipples appearing too high on the breasts.

Our doctors have many years of experience helping patients select the right breast implant size for their individual needs and circumstances. They can provide you with advice and recommendations, but the final decision about your breast size will be up to you

Breast Implant Shape

Breast implants are available in two basic shapes: round or anatomical (teardrop). The best option will ultimately depend on your specific goals and the breast implant shape that can yield the most proportionate and beautiful results.

Round Breast Implants

Round breast implants can be an ideal choice for individuals who would like more prominent projection. This option can also benefit women who would like to enhance volume in the upper areas of the breasts as well as the lower regions. In addition, round implants tend to retain their shape if they shift inside the breast tissue, typically making any movement unnoticeable.

Anatomical / Teardrop-Shaped Breast Implants

A teardrop-shaped implant is essentially designed to mimic the anatomical contours of the breasts. These implants can be the best option for women who are primarily concerned with adding volume to the lower areas of the breasts. They can often be ideal for very thin patients and those who have minimal breast tissue. The downward slope of teardrop-shaped implants can create a very natural-looking result. Plus, anatomically-shaped implants often have a textured surface to reduce the risk of rotation inside the breast tissue.

In addition to the distinct shapes of breast implants, they also have varying degrees of projection and profile, including low, moderate, and high. For women who have a narrower chest, and those who would like the breasts to achieve a more forward projection, high-profile breast implants may be the best choice. During your initial consultation, one of our board-certified plastic surgeons can talk with you about the many options available and help you determine the best implant shape and projection for your needs.

Breast Implant FAQs

  • Are breast implants safe?Since saline breast implants are filled with salt water, they are not harmful to the body. If a rupture occurs, your body will simply absorb the saline solution without any side effects. Due to the fact that silicone breast implants are made with a cohesive gel that does not leak, the gel will stay within the implant even in the case of a rupture.
  • How long do breast implants last?Our plastic surgeons at Florida Plastic Surgery Group know that accurately predicting how long any given breast implant will last is impossible. In general, the FDA has found that after a woman has had implants for around 10 years, at least one of them will have broken. However, a ruptured breast implant is not always obvious.

    If you decide to have breast implants, you can expect to need additional surgery over your lifetime to address ruptures or other complications. The older an implant is, the more likely you are to encounter problems.

  • How common is loss of feeling in the nipples?Temporary numbness in the nipples after breast augmentation surgery occurs in up to 10-15% of patients; however, permanent numbness is quite rare. In addition, temporary numbness is less common when breast implants are placed underneath the muscle (submuscular placement).
  • Is there an age minimum or maximum for getting breast implants?You need to be at least 18 years old to have saline breast implants, and at least 22 years old to have silicone breast implants. There is no upper age limit for breast augmentation. Many older patients who are in excellent health could potentially benefit from a breast augmentation. As long as you are in strong health and free of any major medical conditions, you should be a candidate for breast implants. Consult with your family physician prior to considering breast augmentation surgery.

    If you have further questions about breast implants, please contact our plastic surgeons today to schedule a consultation.