Breast Implants: 101

Aging, hormone changes, childbirth and breastfeeding can dramatically impact the shape and firmness of breasts. Perhaps you have noticed that your breasts don’t sit as high as they once did, they feel deflated or maybe you have had surgery that has altered the appearance of your breasts. From creating voluptuous curves to rebuilding after a mastectomy, Dr. Christine Fisher and her staff offer expertise, experience and a variety of breast implant options to meet your needs.

Types of Breast Implants

There are two main types of breast implants used for breast augmentation: saline and silicone gel. Both implants have a flexible outer silicone shell, but the inner material is what makes them different. Saline breast implants are made of a sterile saltwater solution. These breast implants tend to feel firmer and can have a water balloon consistency that feels like water sloshing back and forth inside the breast. Silicone implants, on the other hand, are filled with a silicone gel that has a sticky, cohesive consistency that mimics the look and feel of natural breast tissue. While both breast implants have their benefits, Dr. Fisher primarily uses silicone gel breast implants, as they provide optimal breast enlargement with beautiful, natural-looking results.

History of Silicone Breast Implants

Silicone breast implants were developed in the 1960s, with the first silicone breast implant performed in 1962. Silicone implants quickly became the implant of choice among patients because of their natural look and feel. At this point in history, there was very little regulation or research required to use an implant (or any medical device), so possible side effects were relatively unknown.

During this time, some patients developed chronic pain, systemic health problems and other disorders that made them question whether their silicone implants were making them sick. In 1992, silicone implants were taken off the market by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and studies were initiated to investigate the safety of the implants. In 2006, after intense research, silicone gel breast implants were deemed safe and approved by the FDA for breast augmentation in patients 22 years of age and older.

Many people have reservations about the history of silicone implants: they were implanted into millions of patients, suddenly taken off the market and then approved for use in patients. For some, the “back and forth” is unsettling. Fortunately, multiple modifications have been made to silicone breast implants since the 1960s. The first implants were made of a thin, oily silicone liquid. If leaks or ruptures occurred, this oily liquid could easily migrate to other parts of the body. Jump ahead to the modern-day silicone breast implant, which is made of a viscous gel material that resembles the feel of gummy candy. If leaks or ruptures occur, the gel sticks together and will not migrate to other parts of the body like first-generation implants.

In addition to making improvements to the silicone material inside breast implants, researchers have studied whether there are differences among patients with health issues based on the type of breast implant used in the patient. Vigorous research has found that silicone and saline breast implants have the same risk of systemic health problems, disorders and chronic pain. Based on the collection of extensive research, combined with clinical expertise and experience, Dr. Fisher and her staff believe that silicone gel breast implants are safe for breast enlargement. Furthermore, the popularity of breast augmentation seems in line with the belief that breast implants are safe, as breast augmentation is the most performed cosmetic procedure in the United States.

Implant Size

Silicone gel breast implants come in a wide variety of sizes to meet the needs of every body type and personal preference. Breast implants are measured in cubic centimeters (CCs), not cup size. CCs are a uniform, consistent measurement, whereas cup size can fluctuate significantly. Dr. Fisher will guide you through the decision-making process. She will consider your body shape, current breast tissue and desired goals to advise you on the breast implant size that will enhance your breasts to give you the look you want.

Implant Shape and Texture

Breast implants come in two shapes: round or teardrop. They also come in a smooth or textured outer shell. Dr. Fisher will help you determine which implant shape and texture is right for your breast enhancement, based primarily on the amount of natural breast tissue you and the aesthetic goals you wish to achieve. For traditional cosmetic breast augmentation, round, smooth silicone implants are often used. The smooth texture allows the implant to rotate in the “pocket” that is created to hold the implant, while the uniformly round implant can turn without distorting the appearance of the breast.

For patients with thin breast tissue, or for patients who are rebuilding their breasts after a mastectomy, often a textured teardrop implant is used. A teardrop-shaped implant has the slope of natural breast tissue, starting thin at the top of the chest and filling out at the base of the breast. This sloped shape creates a natural breast shape in patients who have very little natural breast tissue to enhance and the implant. The textured aspect of the teardrop implant helps the implant stay in place and reduces the risk of capsular contracture, which is unusually hard and painful scar tissue.

Begin Your Journey

To begin your breast augmentation journey, you will have an in-depth consultation with Dr. Fisher. During this first step, Dr. Fisher will listen to your concerns and goals, evaluate your current breast tissue and advise you on the best implant options to enhance your breasts. Our office is entirely staffed by women so that you, and all of our patients, have a comfortable and welcoming environment to ask questions and share concerns. Call us today at 512-815-0123 to schedule your consultation. Together we will help you achieve the look you desire.

Christine Fisher MD

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