Breast augmentation continues to be the most popular plastic surgery procedure in the world. If you’re considering breast augmentation, chances are you’ve already discussed the procedure with friends or relatives who have breast implants. While it is comforting to talk to someone who has undergone the procedure, it is critical to go to an expert for the best advice.
Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. John Q. Cook has completed thousands of successful breast surgeries in his over twenty years of experience. “Over the years, I’ve noted a number of factors that really contribute to a successful breast augmentation,” shares Cook. And while most women interested in breast augmentation tend to fixate on the size of their prospective implants, according to Dr. Cook, breast implant volume is not one of the most important factors to consider when you desire a beautiful surgical result that lasts.
A Successful Breast Augmentation Begins with Careful Surgeon Selection
The first step to a successful breast augmentation is finding a qualified plastic surgeon. While many surgeons call themselves plastic surgeons, this doesn’t necessarily mean they have undergone the years of training required or passed the rigorous testing required to become a board certified plastic surgeon. Before scheduling any consultations, check the website of the American Board of Plastic Surgery and verify that the plastic surgeon you have selected is board certified.
When choosing a plastic surgeon, it is also important to consider the extent of experience the surgeon has with breast surgery in particular. “Often the difference between a merely adequate result and an excellent result comes when one pays attention to certain subtleties of breast form and shape,” explains Cook. “Someone who has done a high amount of breast surgery is going to understand these things and have the experience to guide you to an excellent result.”
The old saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” applies to the breasts. Some people want a very natural-looking result while others want a round, full, over-the-top look. It’s important to select a surgeon who shares your beauty ideals. “There really needs to be an aesthetic meeting of the minds between the doctor and the patient,” points out Cook. “There are different doctors for different patients.”
Cook, who places a high degree of emphasis on an outcome that appears natural, tends to attract patients who also value a natural-looking result. He doesn’t enjoy creating a “done” look, and feels patients who desire a super-sized augmentation are better off selecting a surgeon who enjoys creating that kind of a look.
Questions to Ask During Surgeon Selection:
- Qualification: Are they board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery?
- Experience: Do they have extensive experience with breast surgery?
- Aesthetic: Is their idea of a beautiful breast the same as yours?
Breasts that Match Your Lifestyle
A successful breast augmentation is one that is individualized to your lifestyle, body and goals. “Just because your friend used a particular size and projection of an implant and got a great result, it doesn’t necessarily mean that that is going to be the perfect choice for you,” explains Dr. Cook.
So how do you arrive at the right choice for you? This is where communication with your surgeon is key. There are many decisions to be made regarding placement of the implant above or below the muscle – where the incision will be – as well as decisions about the size, shape and feel of the implant. Once your surgeon understands more about you – the physical activities you enjoy, the look you desire, and yes, your physical exam – they can make recommendations for each of these decisions that are unique to you.
“Many patients like the implant under the muscle because it gives a very natural contour to the upper part of the breast,” says Cook. “There’s also some evidence that it’s a little easier to get mammograms that way. Maybe the breast stays softer as well. For other patients going under the breast itself, on top of the muscle, may be a better choice. Especially in patients who are highly athletic or those who don’t want to see any motion of the implant when the pec muscle is contracted.”
Discuss with your surgeon:
- Incision placement
- Placement of implant: below breast vs. below muscle
- Implant selection: shape, size, projection, fill
Breasts That Go the Distance
It is important to understand that breast implants are not lifetime devices. At some point in time you will more than likely undergo another surgery to remove or replace the implants, or address the aging breast. There are, however, ways to increase the longevity of your results. The most important way to do this, points out Cook, is to not go too large in the first place.
“You want a result that’s going to go the distance and not require multiple revisional surgeries,” emphasizes Cook. “What I’ve seen over the years is this: if you select very, very large implants that completely overwhelm the natural structure of your breasts, I believe you’re almost certain to be coming back for revisional surgery in the future.”