Trends come and go across many industries, and plastic surgery is no different. A “natural aesthetic” is growing in many practices where patients are requesting their procedures to reflect a more natural-appearing result. Whether it be a facelift, buttock augmentation and body contouring, or breast augmentation, many patients want to improve their look, but naturally so. When it comes to breast augmentation, this leads to a trend towards smaller implants.
Board certified plastic surgeons Dr. Daniel Maman of New York City and Dr. Richard Baxter of Seattle have noticed this trend towards smaller implants. A budding population of patients are looking for enhancement in their breasts, but would like to be left with natural results, not something artificial. The surgeons discuss this trend and also why going smaller is medically a wise decision.
A Trend Towards Smaller Implants
One trend that seems to be on it’s way out is larger-than-average implants that produce a somewhat artificial appearance. This trend is responsible for the stereotype often given to breast augmentation that those patients have abnormally large, border-line spectacle breasts. Modern patients don’t want to “stick out,” they want to blend in while also seeing a boost.
“There’s no question that there’s a trend towards smaller implants; people want more natural-looking breasts,” shares Dr. Maman. “That whole idea, that concept of having an augmented-looking chest, where you would see a woman on the beach with very artificial-looking breasts – that aesthetic ideal has shifted to a much more natural aesthetic result.”
Beyond a quest to improve but remain modest, some suspect the healthy, athletic trend seen across the population at large is running in parallel with a desire for smaller implants. Many women – especially younger women entering a period of life where breast augmentation surgery is a viable option – are leading healthy, active lives, something they don’t want disrupted by overly large implants. “I think women want a more athletic look often,” explains Dr. Baxter. In his region, the Pacific Northwest, many residents are highly active and fit, desiring an augmentation that fits into this lifestyle.
In addition to primary breast augmentation, Dr. Baxter has seen the trend towards smaller implants manifest in patients who are downsizing. “What I am seeing is more and more women coming in who had their implants maybe 10-15 years ago downsizing now,” says Baxter. “Maybe they just say it’s just not me anymore, it’s not the look I want to have anymore. I am seeing that trend to downsizing, and I think we’re probably seeing a bit smaller implants for the primary augmentation as well.”
Medical Benefits of Smaller Implants
The trend towards smaller implants is, in some ways, championed by surgeons as it has a big impact on surgical results over time. Simply put, the smaller the implant, the less risk exists for complications following surgery.
“The safety profile of a smaller implant is much better for the patient,” explains Maman. “The problems that you would typically see with a breast implant – capsular contracture, skin atrophy, thinning of the skin, rippling – these things happen at a much higher incidence with larger implants. Larger implants can be problematic for patients.”
The catch with implants is the larger the size, the higher the risk of complications. As Dr. Maman points out, common complications with breast augmentation are reduced when implants are smaller. There is less volume and weight, leading to less stretching of the pocket designed to hold the implants.
“You put so much stress on that tissue envelope that has to contain the implant,” says Dr. Baxter. “You get thinning, then you see rippling, you see bottoming-out, you see all those problems from the heavy implants that are largely avoidable if you go a little bit smaller.”
Is Natural Here to Stay?
It’s hard to predict the lifetime of trends, and even harder to guess what may be next. When it comes to fulfilling the wishes of patients, the growing natural aesthetic in breast augmentation is an easy choice for surgeons. The ability to offer patients enhancement at modest levels, while having an opportunity to provide long-lasting results with less complications, is a win win.