Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Eric Chang offers highly customized options for all the plastic surgery procedures he performs. When it comes to choosing breast implants, Columbia and Baltimore women have plenty of options. There are also decisions about how the surgery is performed including incision and implant placement. Dr. Chang is eager to offer patients his guidance as they navigate each of their options.
Saline vs. Silicone
In the United States today, 2 implant materials are approved by the FDA: saline and silicone. Though this decision is often the first one made by prospective breast augmentation patients, the real question is what the best choice is for you. Dr. Chang offers both saline and silicone breast implants to his Baltimore and Columbia breast augmentation patients.
Saline implants are filled with a sterile saline, or saltwater, solution. These implants are inserted empty and filled once they’re in place, enabling the surgeon to use a smaller incision. In general, saline implants are a bit less expensive than silicone, though the exact price of each surgery depends on many factors.
In the unlikely event of a leak or rupture, the damaged implant will appear to “deflate” over several hours to days, and the saline filling will be naturally absorbed by the body. Saline implants are approved for use on patients 18 and older.
Silicone implants are filled with viscous, medical-grade silicone. Silicone implants can both feel and look more natural. Because silicone implants come prefilled, they usually require slightly larger incisions than saline implants.
Though leaks and ruptures are not common, cohesive silicone implants hold their shape even when broken. On average the lifespan of a silicone implant is thought to be about 20 years. When the new silicone implant shells eventually breakdown, the silicone contained inside continues to keep its shape. The silicone filling is usually contained within the breast capsule, and has not been shown to harm the body if it ruptures. Silicone implants are FDA approved for use in patients age 22 and older.
There are several types of incisions available to our breast augmentation patients. Which one is best for you depends on factors including the type of implant, the final placement of the implant, and patient preference. Here are some of the most popular incision types:
- An inframammary incision is made along the fold under the breast. Though this incision is usually a few inches in length, its discreet location makes it a popular choice. An inframammary scar is not usually visible in regular clothing or swimwear. Because this incision does not involve the nipple, the risk of complications, such as loss of sensation, is minimal. Additionally, patients who receive an inframammary incision are more likely to retain the ability to breastfeed.
- A periareolar incision goes around the areola, which is the area of dark skin around the nipple. Because this incision is located where the skin changes color, the resulting scar is very well camouflaged. Though a periareolar incision works best on patients with large areolas, it may also be appropriate for patients with smaller areolas, depending on the specifics of their surgeries.
- A transaxillary incision, though less common, is the preferred method for some patients. This incision goes through the armpit, leaving no scar on the breast. This incision offers less control for the doctor, but is still a good option for some patients, especially those receiving saline implants.
It’s common for prospective breast augmentation patients to request a specific cup size. While this can give surgeons a rough idea for sizing, breast implants are measured using cubic centimeters, or cc. Because cup sizes can vary drastically between lingerie brands, using cubic centimeters creates a much more precise measurement.
Dr. Chang will advise you on his recommendations for a size that fits your frame and your goals. Though you may like the look of a celebrity’s or a friend’s breasts, keep in mind that every body is different. Your height, weight, and proportions are unique, so it’s important to choose the size that looks best on your body, not somebody else’s.
Implants can be placed under the pectoralis muscle (submuscular) or above the muscle (subglandular). Dr. Chang typically prefers submuscular placement, as it reduces the risk of such cosmetic complications as rippling, where the implant is visible under the skin, and capsular contracture. Submuscular placement is usually better for women with less breast tissue.
Dr. Chang will evaluate your tissue and risk factors and help you choose which option is appropriate for you.
For more information about breast augmentation and answers to common questions, please view our FAQ page.