Thinking about breast augmentation? You are not alone. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, about 300,000 women underwent the procedure in 2010. 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.
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. Some people have proposed this process for breast augmentation. 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. The volume that is required for harvest may be double the ideal volume you actually want. The reason that so much more is required is due to the variability in how much fat survives. Secondly, fat that does not survive may go through a process called “fat necrosis” where calcium deposits may form, which may complicate future screening for breast cancer.
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. It may take a few weeks to get used to your new shape. Once your body becomes adjusted to the implants, your new breasts become a part of your own body image.
Is this the right decision for me? Only you can answer this question. Some important issues to consider are 1) what are your goals, 2) what are the reasons for your decision, 3) who is your support system in this process, 4) have you developed a rapport and trust in the surgeon you choose to perform this operation.