Some women think about breast enhancement with implants for months, or even years, before they finally decide to meet with a plastic surgeon to find out more information. At first, breast augmentation surgery can seem overwhelming, or even scary, for healthy women who have never considered elective surgery before.
Today’s blog post, Part I, will go over some of the basic questions that many women I meet have about their breast augmentation operation.
Is the breast augmentation procedure safe?
Breast augmentation surgery is indeed a very safe procedure, if performed by a board certified plastic surgeon who is experienced and performs this operation in an accredited surgical center. Additionally, we perform all of our breast augmentations with patients asleep, using a general anesthetic or IV sedation administered by board certified anesthesiologists.
Which type of breast implant should I use, saline or silicone, and are they safe?
Breast implants, both saline and silicone, are safe although they do differ from one another.
Saline implants are basically super specialized silicone bags that we fill with saline (salt water) at the time of breast augmentation and insert under the breast tissue to enlarge the breast and give the breast a nice new contour. Saline implants are round, and come in various sizes. If a saline implant leaks, your body will reabsorb the saline, and when you look at or feel that affected breast, you will notice that the breast will be smaller.
Silicone implants are super specialized silicone bags that contain very viscous silicone gel. Currently, there are both round and shaped silicone implants on the market for augmentation. Depending on your anatomy and your desired appearance, the shaped implant might be advantageous. (We will discuss more about this topic later! Stay tuned for “Considering Breast Augmentation Surgery? Part II”….) If a silicone implant leaks, chances are you may not notice a difference in the affected breast because silicone is not reabsorbed by your body like saline is.
Both saline and silicone implants are very safe, but complications can occur (We will discuss more about complications in “Considering Breast Augmentation Surgery? Part II” as well….) The main differences between saline and silicone implants, and the reasons that the vast majority of women choose silicone are:
- Silicone tends to feel softer and more natural than saline
- Silicone implants are less likely to produce visible rippling/wrinkling under the skin.
- Shaped silicone implants may sometimes offer a benefit in some situations.
Downsides of silicone implants:
- They are more expensive than saline implants.
- If a silicone implant leaks, it may be contained within the normal scar tissue that surrounds the implant, called the “capsule.” This is also known as a “silent rupture” because this is usually asymptomatic, and the breast continues to look the same. With time, however, this “silent rupture” can eventually break through the scar tissue (“capsule”) surrounding the implant, and the breast tissue may become inflamed causing a palpable lump, swelling, or soreness that needs to be addressed.
Silicone implants do not cause any systemic diseases or health problems. Interestingly, silicone implants are one of the most studied “medical devices” out there! From 1992-2006, due to health concerns, the FDA decided that silicone implants could not be used for cosmetic breast augmentation surgery, and only patients undergoing breast reconstruction for cancer could have silicone implants placed.
During this time, thousands of women in the U.S. who had silicone implants were studied. Numerous advisory panels concluded that silicone implants do not cause health issues such as rheumatoid arthritis or autoimmune disorders, and they were indeed safe to use for breast augmentation. Thus, in 2006 the FDA granted permission to bring silicone implants back on the market for cosmetic breast augmentation use.
**Stay tuned for my next blog post about breast augmentation: Breast Augmentation Part II which will cover: the steps of the operation and what to expect right after your breast augmentation.
To learn more about breast augmentation, please visit www.soundplasticsurgery.com or call (206) 729-2248 for a free breast augmentation consult in our Seattle clinic located right by University Village.