There’s no denying that breast augmentation is becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. It was the most common cosmetic surgical procedure last year with nearly 300,000 procedures, up 35 percent in the past 15 years. But as breast augmentation increases in popularity, so do the myths that annually deter women from getting a procedure that could boost their confidence and make them feel more like themselves.
At the Scottsdale office of Dr. Richard J. Brown, we think it’s important that all patients are accurately informed about any procedure they are considering. Many of the myths that circulate about procedures like breast augmentation are not only inaccurate, but may actually harm the public’s perception of women who do choose to have the procedure.
To that end, we’ve compiled the master list of common myths about breast augmentation. Which ones did you already know weren’t true?
Myth 1: Going to the same surgeon as a friend will give you similar results.
When having any cosmetic surgery, it’s important to remember that no two human bodies are ever exactly alike. Going to your friend’s plastic surgeon and having the same procedure done never guarantees the two of you will have the same results.
During your initial consultation with Dr. Richard J. Brown, you will be asked to discuss the “look” you want to achieve. We recommend bringing photos similar to how you would like to look to help give Dr. Brown a better idea of what you would like. Bring photos of the inspiration both clothed and nude — remember that breasts look different when adequately lifted and supported by a bra or bikini top that they do in the nude, and it’s important that you love your results either way.
Your final results depend on myriad factors, including the size and shape of your muscles, the amount of breast tissue you have, the size of implant you get, whether you choose saline or silicone implants, and whether they’re placed over or under the muscle. Dr. Brown will discuss the implications of each option with you during your initial consultation, as well as provide a recommendation based on your body type and desired augmentation size.
Related: Budget Boobs are a No-No
Myth 2: Your boobs will look fake.
One of the most common myths about breast augmentation is that the results won’t look natural. In the early days of breast augmentation, most implants gave a far from natural look. The outline of the implant would be visible at the side of a breast, or breasts might appear out of proportion to a woman’s frame. With the very first saline implants, you could even hear a sloshing noise!
This isn’t the early days any more. Technological breakthroughs have given us a vast range of implant sizes, shapes, profiles and compositions to choose from, allowing plastic surgeons to give each patient the perfect implants for their specific bodies. Today it’s easier than ever to achieve a natural look through breast augmentation.
Over or under the muscle?
Your implant’s placement can be a determining factor in how real it looks. Depending on the look you want to achieve, Dr. Brown may recommend placing the implant either over or under the pectoral muscle. Typically, implants placed under the muscle give a more natural look than over the muscle — the overlying layer of tissue smooths over the surface of the implant, preventing any odd edges from showing. This also creates a look that is more sloping than rounded, mimicking the natural curve of an un-augmented breast.
High or low profile?
The profile of your implants also factor into your breasts’ final look. Implants are available in high, medium, and low profiles.
Profile refers to how far the implant protrudes. Typically the higher the implant’s profile, the farther it will project from your chest wall. Often, this means the implant will have a narrower base as well. While a low-profile implant is wide and flat, a high-profile implant is narrower and pointier. The result is that high-profile implants give a more rounded appearance to the upper portion of the breast, while low- or medium-profile implants will give more fullness but less height.
Generally speaking, high-profile implants look less natural than their low- or moderate-profile counterparts. Moderate profiles are the most popular, as they typically give the most natural look. However, this really depends on how your body is shaped — remember that no two pairs of breasts are ever the same.
What’s the shape?
Implants are also available in different shapes, which will affect how natural your breasts look. During your initial consultation, you will choose between round or teardrop-shaped implants.
Teardrop — also known as anatomic — implants typically look more natural than the round variety because their tapered shape mimics the gentle slope of a natural breast. Round implants generally create a fuller, rounder effect in the top of the breast, similar how breasts might look in a push-up bra.
How early is it?
It’s important to remember that your breasts will sit higher on your chest wall during the first several weeks of your recovery. During this time, swelling will also be at its highest. Implants usually settle into their appropriate positions by about six weeks after your surgery, though it may take several months for your breasts to attain their final soft, natural appearance.
If it is still early in your recovery process and your new breasts don’t have the natural look that you wanted, don’t worry — final results are not instant, and what looks “fake” now is likely still setting into a position of natural fullness.
Myth 3: Your implants have to be replaced often.
One of the biggest concerns surrounding breast augmentation is that implants will need to be replaced every 10 years or so. This is also one of the biggest misconceptions about breast implants. If your implants aren’t leaking, there is no unusual swelling or tenderness to your breasts, and you are still happy with your breast size, then there is no reason that your implants need to be replaced.
Breast implants do come with a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty, which is likely the reason that most women believe their implants should be replaced at the 10-year mark. However, just because the warranty has expired doesn’t mean that your implant isn’t still safe and functional.
So what necessitates implant replacement?
They can rupture.
Unfortunately, implants don’t last forever. Only about 15 percent of modern implants rupture before their tenth year, but the likelihood of rupture does increase with each successive year. Still, implant removal comprised only 5.2 percent of the 455,566 cosmetic breast surgeries in women last year.
If an implant does rupture, its behavior is determined by its makeup. Saline implants rupture more noticeably than silicone implants, as the salt water filling will leak out and be absorbed by your body. Your breast will have a somewhat “deflated” appearance until the implant is replaced. Ruptured silicone implants are less noticeable, as the cohesive gel is very viscous and will be contained within the capsule where your implant was placed. Rupture indicators include redness or swelling around the breast, or a new irregularity in your breast’s shape.
Related: Can Breast Implants Pop?
Saline implants are slightly more prone to rupture than silicone implants.
You may want a different size.
Another reason that women may choose to have their implants replaced is that they are no longer happy with their breast size. If a woman has had children or has breastfed since her augmentation, she may want to change the size of her implant to accommodate the changes her breasts have experienced. This may involve either increasing her implant size or downsizing in conjunction with a breast reduction.
Some women also choose to gradually increase their breast size over the course of a few years. This is typically more common in women who wish to go from a very small breast size to a considerably larger size. A sudden and drastic increase in breast size may result in more pain than would otherwise be associated with the procedure, as well as stretch marks or a less natural appearance.
Myth 4: Recovery is painful.
As with any surgical procedure, your incisions and surrounding muscles may be sore for a short while after your breast augmentation. However, this pain and soreness is usually manageable with the medication you are prescribed following your surgery, and almost always goes away within one to two weeks of the procedure.
Here are some factors that may contribute to pain following your breast augmentation.
Over or under the muscle?
Just as you may feel stiff the day after a really good workout, sub-muscular implants typically cause a bit more soreness than sub-glandular implants — for both the exercise and the sub-muscular implants, your muscles are moved in ways they may not be used to moving, leaving them more sore than they would normally feel. Sub-muscular implants are placed under pectoralis muscle and often give a smoother, more natural look.
Sub-glandular implants are placed between the breast tissue and the underlying pectoralis muscle. They may give a less natural look, but often the soreness is not as great as with sub-muscular implants and usually abates more quickly.
Don’t rush it.
As with any surgery, your likelihood of pain is much less if you allow your body ample time to heal. While most patients are up and walking the day after the surgery, you should avoid any vigorous activity that involves bouncing, an elevated heart rate, or lifting more than 10 pounds for about six weeks following your procedure. You will be provided with a surgical bra following the procedure, which you should wear or replace with a sports bra for the first month to six weeks of healing.
Get a massage.
The most common source of breast tenderness following an augmentation other than the normal soreness associated with the healing process is due to something called capsular contracture — the formation and hardening of scar tissue around your implant. Contracture constricts your implant and causes your breasts to feel tight and sore. According to a study published in the Canadian Journal of Plastic Surgery, capsular contracture occurs more frequently with silicone implants than with saline, but it only occurs in about five percent of breast augmentation patients.
The easiest way to prevent capsular contracture is to simply give yourself a massage. Dr. Brown typically instructs his patients to begin breast massage exercises around 10 to 14 days after your surgery. Not only does this help keep your scar tissue from hardening and putting pressure on your implants, it also helps your new breasts to appear more natural more quickly.
Myth 5: You can’t breastfeed with them.
This is one of the biggest myths about breast augmentation. Just because you’ve had a breast augmentation doesn’t mean you can’t still breastfeed your children. However, certain augmentation methods may make breastfeeding easier than others.
As with the look of your augmentation, whether your implants are placed over or under the chest muscle has a bearing on how well you’ll be able to breastfeed.
Under-the-muscle implants generally pose less risk of disturbing your mammary glands and milk ducts. While over-the-muscle implants do not always displace these glands, they may place more pressure on the glandular tissue than under-the-muscle implants do, making it more difficult to produce enough milk to be your baby’s sole source of nutrition.
Milk production is even more dependent on the location of your incision.
A trans-axillary incision, made in the underarm area, poses the least risk to women who still intend to breastfeed. This type of incision is typically small and does not disturb any of the mammary glands or areolar nerves. However, if you have chosen large or silicone implants, your surgeon may advise a different incision location based on your implant type.
Infra-mammary incisions, made where the bottom of the breast connects to the chest wall, are the median choice for women who would rather not limit their implant size based on an incision. This location is suitable for a wide range of implant sizes, and can accommodate both over- and under-the-muscle implant placement. Mammary glands and ducts are not disturbed at this incision location.
Areolar incisions, made around the perimeter of the nipple, are the least conspicuous location for scarring, but pose the greatest risk to breastfeeding. A few minor ducts, glands, or nerves will likely be severed in this procedure in order to properly place your implant. Fewer functioning mammary glands and ducts mean a slight decrease in milk production over the long run, while fewer areolar nerves means that your nipple’s ability to emit milk may be somewhat lessened.
Still, the decision to have an over-the-muscle augmentation through an areolar incision does not guarantee an inability to breastfeed. Most women are still able to produce milk after this procedure, though it may not be a full supply.
Regardless of which incision location you choose, you won’t feel a thing when it happens. All breast augmentation surgeries are performed with the proper painkillers to ensure that it’s as safe and comfortable an experience as possible for our patients. We also take into consideration any concerns you may have about the procedure and the medicine we’ll use to treat you.
Dr. Brown will discuss your breast augmentation incision options at your initial consultation. His expert evaluation and your own preference will both factor into the final location for your incisions.
If you or a friend are considering having a breast augmentation, Dr. Richard J. Brown would like to help you realize your options. Schedule your initial consultation today — call 480-947-2455.