The Surgeon Minute

Choosing the Right Breast Implants

Choosing the Right Breast Implants

It can seem daunting and overwhelming to wade through the vast number of options available for breast augmentation. Many patients find it nearly impossible to determine what is the proper size and shape when it comes to picking a breast implant. A growing pool of available implants offers better, more individualized results, yet may cause some frustration in patients who aren’t being guided properly.

Nashville plastic surgeon Dr. Melinda Haws says the the process doesn’t have to be stressful, so long as you work with a board certified plastic surgeon invested in breast surgery. Modern times are exciting in breast augmentation, what with improvements in technique and thus recovery, as well as a major growth in new implant options. Safely consulting with an expert is the optimal path to pinpoint the right breast implants to suit your body and lifestyle.

Saline vs. Silicone

The best kind of breast augmentation patient is an educated one. It’s important to have a general understanding of what will be presented, so you can be an informed patient. One of the first big decisions will be choosing either a saline or a silicone implant. It’s one of the first items that Dr. Haws discusses with her new patients. “When I see a patient for breast augmentation one of my first questions is, ‘What kind of implant are you going to select’ and they usually have to think about that.”

A saline breast implant has a silicone shell and is then filled with a saline solution – salt water. Experts say it takes on more of a round shape than it’s silicone counterpart, and feels less like the real thing. Haws says that many patients aren’t familiar with the difference between the two – even though some parts of the country have phased out saline.

Saline vs. silicone implants.

Silicone breast implants are silicone shells filled with silicone gel. Haws says they are more natural looking and provide patients with a lot of great options. “I tell all my patients that implants are better now than they have ever been because of advances in the last two years.”

Even though demand for saline has fallen off, there are still a few requests. And while many great breast surgeons still utilize saline implants (and some of the style’s recent technological innovations), it’s not an implant she recommends. “All I have to do is let a patient feel a saline implant, which is like a ziplock bag full of water, or let them feel a silicone – and then they say I want something that feels more like breast tissue verses feeling like one of those bags that you get a fairgrounds, that had a gold fish in it.” Haws says most will opt for the silicone.

What About Gummy Bear Implants

A “Gummy Bear” is a silicone shell filled with silicone gel, but the implant is form stable, meaning that it holds it’s tear drop shape. Dr. Haws says this is the next step for any patient after deciding on silicone or saline – whether to go shaped or round.Differences in silicone implants.

She uses careful consideration to walk her patients through the many options. “‘There’s less cohesive gel and then all the way up to the more cohesive gummy bear gel, which almost feels like a rubber ball.”  Haws says she likes something in the middle, but it’s up to the patient. She says a lot is also determined by their breast tissue. “The more breast tissue the patient has then I’m very honest with them, I could put a bag of rice in there and it would feel great and look great, but other people have very little breast tissue and then the implant makes a big difference.”

Sizing It Up

Once these decision have been made, it’s time for one of the most important – size. “Many of my colleagues, they use 3D imaging, but my partner and I use sizers and a bra because we spend about 80 percent of our lives in clothing,” says Haws. Dr. Haws says it’s important to try on different sizes to see what looks good on the body. “I start with sizing with implants and get an idea in a bra what volume looks good on the patient and what they feel looks good.”

Haws says she makes sure the size is a good fit for a patient’s lifestyle by asking a lot of questions. “Are they a runner, do they workout a lot, are they someone who is a Mom, and wears a lot of sweatshirts and doesn’t want everyone at the PTA meeting to know they’ve have had breast augmentation, verses someone who really wants everybody to know?”

Breast augmentation with new implants - Dr. Haws.

Haws says it’s important to make sure a woman’s measurements match her expectations or the look will be off. “The profile affects how wide the breast is more than anything else, and if you have a wide base width and use a narrow implant, then you look like you have a baseball in your breast, which is not the look we are going for.”

Overall, Haws says it’s important that she be at the patient’s best advocate, especially when it comes to unrealistic expectations. “I have women come in who have very droopy or sagging breasts who bring me pictures of a 19-year old who has never had children, who has tight skin and big round implants and they want that look,” she explains. “That’s very difficult to achieve.”

What is in reach is a natural-looking, pleasing result for women of all ages. Coupled with improved surgical techniques, there has never been a better time to get a better result with breast augmentation surgery.

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