Thinking about breast augmentation?  You are not alone.  According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, about 286,000 women underwent the procedure in 2013.  Often, the women who ultimately undergo the procedure have thought about it for several years prior to making this very personal decision. And yet there can be a lot of confusing information on the internet, on television, and through what you hear from friends. So what are some things that you should find out before you move forward?

Which type of implant should I use?  There are two types of implants on the market…saline and silicone implants.  Silicone implants generally feel a bit softer and more natural, however are approved only for use in women who are at least 22 years of age.  The FDA also recommends routine MRI screening and prophylactic implants exchanges for women with silicone implants.  Saline implants are quite effective for breast augmentation without the FDA requirements of silicone implants, and cost about $1000 less than silicone implants.  Saline can sometimes have a little more rippling compared to silicone implants.  This is only noticeable if you have very thin breast tissue.

Do I need an implant…what is fat grafting?  Fat grafting is the process of harvesting fat from your body and placing it as a graft to another part of your body. Though most augmentation is performed with implants, fat transfer is becoming more frequently performed.   However there are several caveats to this idea of using “autologous tissue,” your own body, for breast augmentation.  Firstly, you have to possess enough fat to be harvested.  Secondly, typically a significant portion of the fat does not survive, so you may need repeat fat grafting surgeries.  Lastly, there are no good long term studies of whether fat grafting increases your risk of breast cancer, whereas there is more data on safety of implants for augmentation.

What happens if I decide to remove my implants at a later time?  If you change your mind about having breast implants and decide to have them removed, this is certainly possible to perform.  The implants are often removed from the old scar.  However, skin may be more stretched due to the implants that were there, requiring a breast lift procedure to allow the breasts to return to a more rounded (rather than saggy) shape.

How will I feel about my new body shape? Most women, once they have decided to proceed with surgery, are thrilled with their decision.  With the recovery process, the breast implants tend to soften and become relaxed over the course of several months.  Breast augmentation can be an effective way to reliably enhance breast shape.