Women's Health

Breast Implants - Types, Breast Augmentation Surgery, and Complications

Written by
Dr. Sneha Kannan
and medically reviewed by Dr. Vicky Jain

Published on Nov 13, 2019   -  4 min read

Abstract

Abstract

A breast implant is a medical device grafted either for cosmetic purposes or post-surgery. This article provides guidance on breast augmentation, types of breast implants, the outcome of breast augmentation and complications related to it.

Breast Implants - Types, Breast Augmentation Surgery, and Complications

Introduction:

An artificial device that is used to change the size, shape, and contour of a woman’s breast is called a breast implant. It can be used to restore a natural-looking breast after surgically removing the breast (mastectomy) or to correct birth defects. Some women also use it for cosmetic purposes to improve the appearance of their breasts (breast augmentation surgery).

The filler materials used for breast implants are saline, silicone gel, structured fillers, and composite fillers. The most commonly used types are the saline-filled and silicone-gel filled implants. The possible complications of getting implants are breast pain, infection, implant rupture, and collection of fluid around the breast.

Why Is Breast Augmentation Done?

The common reasons for getting breast implants are:

  • If the breasts are too small.

  • If one breast is smaller than the other.

  • To replace breast tissue damaged due to trauma, breast cancer, and birth deformities.

  • To correct the outcome of a breast reconstruction surgery done in the past.

  • To enhance how your breasts look.

  • After mastectomy.

You should not have unrealistic expectations about getting breast implants and talk to a plastic surgeon before you decide on breast augmentation surgery.

What Are the Common Types of Breast Implants Used?

The common types of breast implants available are:

1) Saline breast implants - These are filled with sterile saline (saltwater). And if there is a leak, the saline implant collapses and the saltwater naturally exits the body. These implants provide a uniform shape and firmness. It is approved to be used for females above 18 years of age.

2) Silicone breast implants - These fillers are made of silicone and silicone gel. It is firm, uniform in shape, and it feels almost like natural breasts. If this implant breaks, it will not collapse and the gel remains within the implant shell or escapes out. It is approved to be used for females older than 22 years of age.

3) Structured implants - These implants are filled with saline and are made of silicone covering. This combines both the silicone and saline fillers in one. They come in different sizes and can have a smooth or textured shell.

4) Gummy bear breast implants - Gummy bear breast implants maintain their shape even if the implant shell breaks. The silicone gel inside is thicker and firmer. It needs a bigger incision to place it, and if the implant rotates, then a separate procedure needs to be done to correct it.

5) Round breast implants - These implants make breasts appear fuller. They are evenly round, so even if it rotates, it does not affect the shape and needs no procedure to correct it.

What Are the Things to Consider Before Getting Breast Implants?

If you decide to get breast implants, your plastic surgeon will ask you about your preferences for the size and appearance of the breasts. They will show you all the available types of implants, and you can make a decision based on your surgeon’s opinion and your preference.

Before you get the surgery done, the things you need to consider are:

  1. Implants do not prevent the breasts from sagging. For sagging breasts, you might also need a procedure called a breast lift.Breast implants last on an average of about 10 years.

  2. Factors like aging, weight gain, weight loss, etc., will affect the way your breasts look after surgery.

  3. A routine mammogram might not be enough, and you might need specialized imaging if you get breast implants.

  4. Some women find it difficult to breastfeed after getting breast augmentation surgery.

  5. It is an expensive procedure, and insurance does not cover it.

  6. If in the future you want to get the implants removed, you will need additional surgeries to lift your breast and restore the natural appearance.

  7. Some doctors recommend getting routine MRIs after three years.

  8. Avoid smoking or taking Aspirin before the surgery.

What to Expect During Breast Augmentation Surgery?

This surgery is most commonly done under general anesthesia, that is you will be put to sleep during the procedure. You will most probably be able to go home the same day.

The plastic surgeon will make an incision to insert the breast implant. This incision is either made in the crease under the breast (inframammary), or under that arm (axillary), or near the nipple (periareolar).

After this, the breast tissue are separated from the muscles and connective tissue, which creates a pocket. The breast implant is then inserted in this pocket. Saline implants are either filled before inserting or after inserting the outer shell. Silicone implants are preformed and contain silicone gel.

After placing the implant, the incision is closed with sutures and surgical tapes or bandages are placed.

What to Expect After Breast Augmentation Surgery?

After the surgery, you will have soreness and swelling for a few weeks. The scars fade over time, but will not completely disappear. The things you can do the promote healing are:

  • For extra support, wear a compression bandage or sports bra.

  • Take painkillers prescribed by your surgeon.

  • You can resume work in a few weeks.

  • Do not perform strenuous activities that could raise your blood pressure for 2 to 3 weeks.

  • Get the sutures and drainage pipe removed by your doctor and go for regular follow-ups.

  • Get immediate medical help if you have a fever, discharge from the incision, chest pain, and shortness of breath.

What Are the Possible Complications from Getting Breast Implants?

Some of the possible complications include:

  • Thick scarring.

  • The breast tissue might feel hard due to the shrinking of scar tissue.

  • The implant can rupture.

  • The implant might rotate.

  • The nipples might become more or less sensitive or numb.

  • Inability to breastfeed.

Breast Implant Illness:

Some women with breast implants experience symptoms like chest pain, hair loss, chills, persistent pain, depression, headaches, sleep problems, neurological problems, etc.. This condition is called breast implant illness (BII). This condition is still not recognized medically, and more research is needed to understand the cause and its relation to breast fillers.

For any further queries about breast implants, consult a plastic surgeon online now!

Last reviewed at:
13 Nov 2019  -  4 min read

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