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    7 Super-strange Implant Facts
    Despite their popularity, there are things you likely don't know about breast implants. Here are seven super-strange facts…

What You Need to Know About Breast Implants

Reviewed by Walter Erhardt, MD

Breast implants can change the size, shape and profile of your breasts. This popular plastic surgery procedure may help soften the toll that advancing age, childbearing and breast-feeding have taken on your breasts. (Sagging breasts require a breast lift, which can be performed with or without implants.)

During breast augmentation with implants (augmentation mammoplasty), implants are inserted behind your breast and the chest (pectoralis) muscle just under your breast. Implants can range in volume from 120 mL (milliliters) to 850 mL. You can view some examples in our gallery of breast augmentation before-and-after photos.

In addition to differing in volume, implants vary in shape, profile, outer thickness and outer surface layer.

There are a few alternatives to breast augmentation with implants. Fat grafting breast augmentation involves harvesting fat via liposuction from another area of your body and injecting it into your breasts. Fat grafting is typically used to improve the appearance of your breasts after surgery to treat breast cancer, to correct a congenital breast deformity or to even out any imperfections occurring after breast augmentation with implants, such as wrinkles or ripples. The long-term effects of fat grafting to a normal breast are not fully understood, and the degree of augmentation possible via grafting is only modest at best. For these reasons, fat grafting for cosmetic breast augmentation is still considered experimental by many plastic surgeons.

Another alternative, breast auto augmentation, uses your own tissue to enhance your breast size and shape.

Silicone versus Saline Implants

Some women feel that silicone implants are smoother and feel more like natural breast tissue than saline-filled implants. Both types of implants have their share of advantages and disadvantages that you must weigh, together with your surgeon, when planning your breast augmentation surgery.

The good news is that both types of implants are considered safe. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) removed silicone implants from the consumer market in 1992 as a precautionary measure after conflicting reports of possible complications surfaced. Some of these complications required breast implant removal. However, silicone gel-filled breast implants were fully exonerated and reapproved in 2006. (Read more about implants and the FDA.)

Breast implant options in the development pipeline include highly cohesive silicone gel implants — also called gummy bear implants — and adjustable saline implants that allow implant volume to be adjusted after surgery.

Breast Implant Placement

Breast implants augment the breast's shape via:

  • Subglandular implant placement
  • Partial submuscular implant placement
  • Complete submuscular implant placement

These placements vary from shallow (subglandular) to deep (complete submuscular). The right placement for your breast implants is based on your anatomy as well as your goals and expectations. You should express your desires to your surgeon, but make sure to take his or her expert opinion into account. Improper implant placement can create complications such as breast augmentation double bubble, wrinkles and rippling.

Your choice of breast implant placement can also affect your breast augmentation recovery time.

Learn more about breast implants

Breast Implant Incisions

Implants are inserted behind the breast tissue or the chest muscle through carefully placed incisions. The four main types of incisions used for breast augmentation surgery are:

  • Periareolar (around the nipple) incision
  • Transaxillary (in the armpit) incision
  • Inframammary fold (under the breast) incision
  • Transumbilical (in the belly button), or "TUBA," incision

Discuss these options with a board-certified plastic surgeon. He or she can help you make these important decisions regarding your breast implant surgery.

Start your search for the right surgeon now.