This Article Has Been Medically Reviewed By

Dr. Jennifer Emmett, M.D.

Home Breast Augmentation Your Complete Guide to Breast Implants

March 22, 2021

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably had thoughts about getting a breast augmentation, but were unsure where to start.

There are many reasons to get breast implants, whether it’s to recover from a mastectomy, improve breast symmetry, bounce back after a pregnancy, or simply feel more self-confidence.

In our helpful guide to breast implants, we’ll quickly go over the breast implant options available today, explain how breast augmentation surgery works, list potential risks and complications, and offer tips on financing the surgery.

What Are Breast Implants?

Breast implants are medical devices (prostheses) used to alter the size, shape, and contour of a woman’s breast.

Breast implants are typically used in reconstruction surgery, such as replacing and filling out missing breast tissue from a mastectomy, or used in cosmetic surgery to improve the appearance or symmetry of one’s breasts. This is commonly referred to as breast augmentation surgery.

Breast implants were invented in the 1960s and have undergone many iterations and design improvements, resulting in various shapes, sizes, textures, and materials of implants.

How a Breast Implant Procedure is Done

Breast augmentation surgery is the process of placing breast implants either behind the breast tissue (subglandular) or underneath the chest muscle (submuscular).

Subglandular and submuscular insertion methods both have their advantages and disadvantages. Subglandular is the more popular option and creates a natural, softer feeling breast, however submuscular is a better option when it comes to mammogram imaging.

Breast augmentation surgery usually lasts about an hour and requires general anesthesia, which allows the patient to sleep in an unconscious, pain-free state.

Incisions can be made in a few different locations, such as:

  • Around the nipple
  • Under the breast, near the crease where the breast meets the rib cage
  • In the armpit

The incision placement depends on many factors, such as the patient’s anatomy, breast size goals, and implant choices that are discussed with Dr. Emmett before surgery.

Once the incisions are cut, silicone or saline implants can be inserted. Saline implants are able to use smaller incisions, as the implants can be inserted first and then filled with saline solution. Silicone implants must be filled prior to insertion and require larger incisions.

After inserting the breast implants, Dr. Emmett carefully closes and stitches (sutures) the incision.

Types of Breast Implants

Emmett Plastic Surgery currently offers two breast implant varieties to choose from: silicone or saline.

Today, both options are still hugely popular, with many safety and design improvements added since their original creations.

Silicone Implants

Silicone breast implants have been used since 1962, when Timmie Jean Lindsay, a mother of six, successfully changed her breast size from a B cup to a C cup.

Silicone implants are silicone gel sacs surrounded by a silicone outer shell.

These kinds of implants give a fuller, more natural look and feel over their saline implant counterparts.

Our clinic uses the “gummy bear” variety of silicone breast implants. What this means is the silicone gel is self-binding, so that in the case of a leak or rupture, none of the silicone would seep into our patient’s breast.

Saline Implants

Saline implants were invented in the late 90s as an alternative to silicone, becoming increasingly popular in the late 90s and early 2000s. They are still a popular option today.

Like silicone implants, saline implants still have an outer shell made out of durable silicone but are filled with sterile saline water solution instead.

The benefit of the saline solution is that in the event of an implant rupture, the body would safely absorb the saline solution. The shell would still need to be removed, however, it poses no immediate health risks, which makes it an attractive option for some over silicone.

Saline implants can be inserted into the breast first and then filled with saline solution, resulting in smaller incisions in the breast tissue than silicone implants, which are filled before insertion.

Fat Transfer

While it’s technically not a breast implant, we offer fat transfers, also known as fat grafting, as a way to liposuction fat from other parts of the body and insert it into the breast tissue.

Fat transfer and injection is a good option for those looking for a small increase in breast size or to improve minor symmetry problems by filling out a smaller breast to match the larger breast.

Risks and Complications of Breast Implants

The vast majority of women undergoing breast augmentation surgery have positive outcomes and are happy with their results. Over 98% polled said the surgery met or exceeded their expectations. However, there’s always a slight risk of complications when it comes to breast implant augmentation surgery.

Implant Complications

Breast augmentation surgeries leave behind scars that are pink and slightly raised, which heal and become less noticeable over time. In some instances, thick scarring can occur. Another issue that can happen is rippling, which causes the breasts to have a stretched, uneven appearance. Submuscular (under the chest muscle) implants are less likely to ripple.

Capsular Contracture 

Sometimes scar tissue can form around the implant, causing the tissue around the breast to harden and become painful. Capsular contracture can affect just one, or both breasts, and can cause an abnormal appearance.

Rupture and Deflation

Breast implants’ outer shells can become weakened, forming tears or holes that can leak. When this happens, it’s referred to as a rupture. Technically, when saline implants rupture, it’s referred to as deflation, because as the saline solution gets absorbed into the body, the breast’s size will be reduced. In the case of saline deflation, the silicone shell still needs to be removed from the body.

Additional Surgeries

Modern breast implants are much more form-stable and reliable than ever before, but may still require maintenance and upkeep after several years. In the past it was recommended to replace implants every 10 years, however, as long as there’s no rupturing, implants can last much longer.

Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL)

Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) is exceedingly rare, occurring in about 10 patients per year, out of 10 to 11 million women in the world who have received breast implants.

Cost of Breast Implants

Breast augmentation surgery is considered elective, which means it’s a type of surgery that’s non-essential, or medically necessary. Because of this, most insurance plans do not cover breast augmentation costs.

Luckily, Dr. Emmett offers several financing options through CareCredit®, Simmons Bank, and Prosper® Healthcare Lending to make breast augmentation accessible and affordable to those who need it.

Dr. Emmett’s office also accepts cash, checks, and major credit cards to assist in the payment of breast augmentation surgery.

Click here to learn more about our many financing options.

Schedule Your Breast Enhancement Consultation Today

There are more breast augmentation options today than ever before, ranging from silicone and saline implants to fat grafts and injections.

If you’ve been thinking about getting breast augmentation surgery and are unsure of the next steps, schedule your breast enhancement consultation with Dr. Emmett today.

Transform and rejuvenate your appearance with Emmett Plastic Surgery by calling (303) 955-7545!