Breast augmentation surgery is one of the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures in the world. Last year’s ISAPS Global Statistics showed that over 1,649,271 breast augmentation procedures were performed worldwide in 2016.
Even though breast augmentations are very popular, there are some questions that many women feel a bit embarrassed to ask of their doctor. No worries, we’re here to help! If you are thinking about getting breast implants, here are eight questions that might be on your mind.
- Are there different kinds of breast implants?
There are many different kinds of breast implants, coming in different shapes, sizes, and materials. Your selection of breast implant type should be made in consultation with your doctor.
There are saline breast implants, which are filled with sterile saltwater. There are silicone breast implants, filled with silicone gel to allow for a more natural feel. There are also newer types of breast implants, including “Gummy Bear” breast implants that maintain their shape even if they are ruptured.
- How long do breast implants last?
Although neither saline nor silicone breast implants are designed to last forever, the “shelf life” of both is fairly lengthy. Some guidelines say that breast implants should be removed or replaced at approximately 10 years. As bodies change over the course of a decade, many women choose to get a “revision” before this point. Of course, if there is any damage to the breast implant, you should go to a doctor immediately to have it removed.
- Will they hurt?
As breast augmentation is a surgical procedure, there will be an associated recovery period which can include pain, swelling and bruising. These symptoms can be controlled with pain medication, as prescribed by your doctor. After your recovery period, your breast implants should not hurt.
There can be some minor side effects that may be painful, including a sore back (as your muscles will need to get stronger to support your new breasts) and possible skin stretching (although this is rare).
- What is the right size of implant?
This answer depends on a number of factors, such as your body type and desired breast size. Before you have surgery, you should have an extensive consultation with your surgeon to discuss exactly what will happen. The experience of sizing for breast implants can be somewhat similar to trying on a new bra. Some surgeons might even have computer software that will allow you to preview what you would look like with various sized implants.
- Will I still be able to breastfeed?
Although there is a risk that you may lose the ability to breastfeed, most women are able to breastfeed successfully after receiving breast implants. Another concern many mothers have is whether the material in their implants will affect their breast milk. Neither silicone nor saline breast implants seem to cause any change to the composition of breastmilk, so it should be safe for babies to drink.
- Is there a risk of cancer?
Many women are afraid that implants might be a factor in the development of breast cancer. Although there is no link between breast cancer and breast implants, there is a chance that textured implants might contribute to the development of anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALCL). This can be avoided by using a licensed ISAPS surgeon who will use proper sterilization procedures, along with following up your surgery with an antibiotic to kill any potential bacteria.
Breast implants could potentially cause complications when it comes time to get a mammogram. You may need an ultrasound or an MRI to get a complete and clear exam.
- What happens if the implant ruptures?
This depends on the type of implant. If you have a saline implant, you will know immediately, as it will deflate. Saline breast implants are filled with a sterile saline solution, so your body will be able to safely absorb and process it. If your saline breast implant ruptures, please call your doctor immediately.
If you have a newer silicone implant, also called a “Gummy Bear” implant, you might not even notice if it ruptures, as they are designed to hold their shape. This is why it is recommended that you get an MRI every three or so years if you have a silicone implant, to check for potential damage.
- Are there any alternatives to breast implants to get bigger breasts?
Yes, there are other options, but breast implants are the most reliable and effective. You could look at fat grafting (taking fat from one area of your body and injecting it into another) or you could look at breast autoaugmentation. This is a procedure, usually paired with a breast lift, where a wedge of breast tissue is removed from the bottom of the breasts, and then tucked in underneath. Ask your ISAPS plastic surgeon about your other options to determine which is the best path toward larger and fuller breasts.