When it comes to achieving larger, more beautiful breasts, patients have more options than ever before. Today’s patients can choose to have saline implants, silicone implants, or fat transfer to the breasts from other areas of the body. Which is right for you? Keep reading for some general guidelines.
Saline and Silicone Implants
The first two options, and the two most commonly chosen, are saline and silicone implants. These implants have several things in common as far as end results are concerned. Both saline and silicone implants are safe and FDA-approved, and each type comes with a lifetime warranty. Both are available in a large selection of sizes. And both can make breasts look “perkier” and more youthful.
Both saline and silicone implants can be placed above the pectoralis major muscle directly under the breast itself, or beneath the pectoralis major muscle and breast. There are several factors that go into this decision, and Dr. Smith makes recommendations to patients based on their particular profile and desires.
While saline and silicone implants have many things in common in regard to size, shape and placement, there are some important differences between the two.
Some patients prefer saline implants because they seem to be a more “natural” choice than silicone. The implants are placed, then filled with a saline solution that mimics the body’ natural chemical makeup. Because saline implants are inserted unfilled, the scar may be slightly smaller than with a silicone implant. However, they do not feel as realistic “to the touch” as silicone.
It’s unlikely a patient will experience a rupture with either saline or silicone implants, but should a saline implant burst, the water will simply be reabsorbed by the body. This will also be obvious right away, as the implant will deflate, letting the patient know her implant has ruptured and needs to be replaced.
Silicone breast implants are filled with a thick, silicone gel polymer with a feel that is very similar to a natural breast. These implants don’t leak, but can crack, allowing the gel to leave the implant. The gel is not harmful, but will not be reabsorbed by the body in the same way saline is. Silicone implants are very durable, however, and as mentioned above, have a lifetime warranty.
An advantage of the silicone implants is that they have a more natural feel than the saline. They can also look more natural, especially when bending over. For many patients, silicone implants will come closer to providing them with their “goal breasts,” and Dr. Lane Smith recommends them more often than the saline.
Upon learning that fat can be “harvested” from certain areas of the body and added to the breasts, many patients’ first reaction is “That’s what I want! It’s all natural! No scarring!” And while it is all natural, and there are no incisions (only two small holes for the fat to be injected) there are some important caveats.
First, patients who choose fat transfer will experience greater limitations in size increases. The skin of the breasts can hold a finite amount of fat. Once the skin is stretched as far as it can go, no more can be added. Patients who desire to go up more than 1 cup size will probably be more satisfied with the results from saline or silicone implants. Fat transfer is a good option for someone whose breasts increased in size during pregnancy and then experienced volume loss, so that they have extra skin to work with.
Second, fat transfer is only an option if a patient has additional fat to spare in other areas. A very thin woman who desires larger breasts may not be able to provide the amount of fat required. If a patient has excess fat, she will end up with beautiful results in more than one area—the breasts and the area that was harvested to enlarge the breasts.
Third, fat transfer is a longer procedure because fat must be harvested, then purified, before it can be injected into the breasts. Because the surgery is longer and more involved, it costs more.
However, patients are effectively treating two areas in which they desire improvement—the breasts and the abdomen (or thighs, bottom, etc), making this a better option than implants for many patients. Finally, not all of the transferred fat will “survive” the recovery process. On average, only 50% of transferred fat will live. Most of this resorption will take place within 2 weeks after the surgery, but some patients may experience this as far out as 6 weeks. For this reason, some patients may pursue a second transfer after the first has healed. Treating the newly-augmented breasts very gently post-surgery will maximize your results.
The best way for you to determine which procedure will give you the beautiful breasts you desire is to schedule a consultation with Dr. Smith. He will discuss your goals regarding size, lift, shape and feel, and make a personal recommendation based on his assessment. To make an appointment to discuss a breast augmentation with Dr. Smith, please call our office at (702) 838-2455.