Breast implants are used to shape and enlarge breasts, and the modern types consist of either silicone or saline prostheses. The breast implants are either inserted under the breast tissue or the pectoral muscle and are available in many different variants, for example, they can be drop-shaped or round, smooth or nub. However, your choice of breast implants will depend on your body and your personal desires for size and shape.
In general, there are two types of breast implants:
silicone breast implants and saline breast implants.
Silicone breast implants —
Most women choose to have silicone breast implants as they provide the most natural breast. In addition, this type of breast implants does not react very much with the body’s tissues, so the implant stays where it is.
The silicone moldings consist of silicone in gel or foam form and with a hard silicone film around the core of the silicone. There is a minimal chance of the silicone escaping into the body, but this risk is almost completely eliminated if you choose to get a low bleed silicone implant. This type of breast implant has 3–5 layers of hard silicone, making the implant virtually impermeable. Silicone breast implants are available in many different shapes and sizes, and they can last for up to 10 years before being replaced. With silicone breast implants, your breasts will feel a little harder and firmer than your natural breasts did, while naturally being larger.
Breast implants of saline
This type of breast implant consists of a sterile saline solution with a silicone shell around it, just as the silicone implant has. They do not feel as natural as the silicone breast implants, they are tougher and firmer, and then there is a risk that they will fold on the front. In addition, they lose some of their water over the years, and you can, therefore, experience that your breasts gradually decrease. However, the benefits of saline implants are that they better follow one’s body temperature, they are easier to change and do not shade as much in breast cancer screenings. Saline breast implants are available in many variants and can either be pre-filled, filled during surgery as an expansion prosthesis, or filled multiple times after breast augmentation during follow-up operations. This type of breast implant usually lasts for 10–15 years,
There is one alternative to breast implants of silicone and saline, and that is breast augmentation with own fat.
How are breast implants inserted?
There are five different methods of breast implant insertion:
Inframammary: A cut is made in the fold of the mammary gland, giving maximum access to the precise dissection of tissue and placement of the breast implants. This is the preferred surgical technique, although this breast implant produces thicker, slightly more visible surgical scars than the other methods do.
Periareolar: An incision is made along the periphery of the areola, giving optimum access when you cannot use the inframammary or when you need to perform a breast lift at the same time. Silicone breast implants can be difficult to place with this method as you only have a roughly five-centimeter incision. However, aesthetically, this method is most attractive, as the scars are very small after the insertion of the breast implants.
Transaxillary: Here you place an incision in the armpit from which you can either place the breast implants manually or by an endoscope (illuminated micro video camera). Thus, no visible scars are produced on the breast — on the other hand, it is difficult to maintain breast symmetry with this method, which often requires an extra incision, to correct the breast implants.
Transumbilical: This is a rarely used method of inserting breast implants as the breast implant is inserted through an incision in the navel and then the breast implants are brought up to the breast. This method does not produce scars on the breasts, however, it is more technically demanding than the other methods of breast implant insertion. It is also not suitable for silicone breast implants as the incision is only about two centimeters and there is a high chance that the skull will be damaged during placement.
Transabdominal: Here the breast implants are inserted as in the Transumbilical method, while the patient undergoes abdominal plastic surgery.
Risks of breast implant insertion
The plastic surgical placement of breast implants for either breast reconstruction or for aesthetic purposes presents the same health risk as all other types of surgery. You may have a negative reaction to the anesthetic, you may experience post-operative bleeding, fluid retention or wound infection.
Specific breast augmentation complications with breast implants include breast pain, reduced sensation, impaired ability to breastfeed, visible wrinkles, asymmetric breasts, thinning of breast tissue, and symmastia that interrupt the natural plane between the breasts. In addition, there is a risk that the breast implants will crack and the stuffing seeps into the body. This is no problem if it is saline, but if the silicone flows out it can cause inflammatory nodules and enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit area. Thus, there are a number of possible complications that must be considered before choosing to have breast implants.
Does breast surgery prevent mammograms?
Both silicone and saline breast implants may be in the way of a mammogram so that they shade any nodes in the breast. In such cases, another mammography method must be used, where the breast implant is manually displaced toward the chest wall and the breast is pulled forward. In this way, mammography gains access to a larger amount of tissue, although about a third is still hidden. A mammogram is therefore never completely safe when you have breast implants.
Breast implants in general
A breast implant is a prosthesis used to correct the size, shape, and texture of a woman’s breast. Breast implants are used in plastic surgery for breast reconstruction, to correct congenital defects and malformations of the breast wall, to make the breast more beautiful, and to create breasts in the male-to-female transgender patient.
There are three main types of breast implants and they are defined by their filler material: saline solution, silicone, and composite filler. Saltwater implants have an elastomeric silicone shell filled with sterile saline, the silicone implant has an elastomeric silicone shell filled with silicone gel, and the alternative composition implants contain various fillers, such as soybean oil — these breast implants are no longer used.