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Breast implants or augmentation can restore a youthful contour

Allen Gabriel MD, FACS Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon and Assistant Professor PeaceHealth Medical Group Plastic Surgery

Women all over the world choose to get breast implants to make their breasts more appealing and fuller. Breast implants are used for both reconstructive purposes, such as after mastectomy, or for cosmetic reasons. This article will focus on elective cosmetic purposes for getting breast implants.

Women choose to have breast augmentation for a variety of reasons. Whatever the reason, breast augmentation can help a woman feel more comfortable with her body by delivering fuller breasts and improved body image. Many women who have had breast augmentation say that they feel much more confident with their new shape as it changes their entire appearance of their body. Breast augmentation is a personal decision and obtaining accurate information and evaluating yourself for candidacy is important. Breast augmentation has remained as the most popular elective cosmetic surgical procedure that is performed annually in the United States.


Do find out if you are a candidate for getting breast implants

If you feel that your breasts are too small, have issues fitting into clothing due to breast size, or if you are self-conscious in a swimsuit or tank top, you may be considering breast augmentation. Women’s motivations for having cosmetic surgery are many and varied. You are not alone, many women contemplate having surgery and some take the initiative of taking the next step.

The No. 1 reason women want breast augmentation is because they want larger and fuller breast. They may have always been unhappy with their breast size. Maybe they have lost volume of the breast tissue after pregnancy, breastfeeding or weight loss. Or they might just feel like their breasts are not in proportion with the rest of their body. Others simply want rounder, fuller breasts. Some mothers choose to undergo breast augmentation as part of a mommy makeover — a combination of procedures designed to help restore a woman's body to its pre-pregnancy, pre-motherhood state.

If you fall into any of the categories and lead a healthy lifestyle, then you may be candidate for breast augmentation. If you decide to undergo breast augmentation surgery, be sure that your reasons are your own. It is also important to manage your expectations about breast augmentation. Breast augmentation may help you feel better about yourself and boost your self-esteem, but it will not change anything else about your life.

Do choose a board certified plastic surgeon

Once you are contemplating breast augmentation, the next important step is to choose a plastic surgeon who has undergone the rigorous training and is board certified by the American Board for Plastic Surgery. This is important, as it directly relates to your safety and long-term outcomes. Do your research and make sure the surgeon that you have chosen is certified and has passed the meticulous examinations that requires one to be listed on the site.

Do have a list questions for your consultation

Use your consultation to the fullest. Have a list of questions that you may have for your plastic surgeon. If you feel you were not able to address all questions at your first visit, return for another appointment and have all questions answered. Make sure you have clear understanding and realistic expectations of your outcome.

Your body changes over time as you age and undergo hormonal changes, such as menopause. Therefore, the shape of your breast is going to change with time and gravity. Major weight gain or loss, and pregnancy can also dramatically change the shape of your breast. Make sure you are at your ideal weight when getting implants. If family planning is in the near future (within 1-2 years) then postpone your surgery until you are done breastfeeding for at least 6-12 months.

Do pick the size that you are comfortable with

It is important to have an idea what size breast you are leaning towards. This is not measured by cup sizes, but is measured on what looks proportionate on your body. Your friends that have had the surgery will have a size that they recommend and will give their idea of what you should get. Do your own research on sizing and stick with what you are comfortable with. This is an investment that you are making into your body, so take the time and don’t rush it. Listen to yourself and what recommendation your plastic surgeon may have for you. You are going to live with the size you have chosen and will be sleeping, exercising, and working with the new size. If you have access to 3D imaging on the website or your plastic surgeon’s office, use it to your advantage as it can be very helpful in your decision making process.

Do pick an implant based on accurate information

A great deal of attention is placed on the safety of both fourth (smooth, round) and fifth (textured, anatomical) generation silicone implants. In 1997, the US Government began one of the most extensive research studies in medical history. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science (IOM) found that diseases were no more common in women with breast implants than in women without implants. There are over 8 million women with breast implants and unfortunately some will develop either rare or common diseases that are not directly related to their implants. In November of 2006, the FDA approved the fourth generation silicone breast implants by the two manufacturers, Mentor and Allergan. Recently the fifth generation of silicone implants were approved by the FDA. Now you can choose between two different silicone implants and with the help of your plastic surgeon, you can make the final decision about what would give you the desired outcome. Your choices are between saline, fourth generation silicone, and fifth generation silicone implants.


Do not avoid a lift by getting a larger implant

Getting larger implants can have long term consequences. It can stretch out the tissue, thinning it and supporting the implant can be more difficult, which can lead to more of a “saggy” look. If a lift is needed in conjunction with getting an implant, then follow your plastic surgeon’s advice. Otherwise, don’t have the surgery because you will be predisposing yourself to unnecessary future procedures. Your plastic surgeon will let you know what a safe size is, based on the measurements that are taken during your physical examination.

Do not go without a bra

Wearing a bra as much as possible deflects the continuous effects of gravity on the breast tissue. Once a weight (implant) has been added, then the breast is heavier and effects of gravity are magnified. Protect your results by wearing a brassiere as much as possible. There may be occasions due to your clothing choice that you may not want to wear a brassiere, but make this an exception and not the rule.

Do not rush your decision

Take your time when you are making the important decision of getting breast implants. This is going to change many things including how clothes fit you, how heavy your chest feels, how different your arm movement may be since now there is new volume on your chest. If you have chosen a certain volume such as 240cc, then get either rice, bird seeds, or something in equivalent volume and place it in a bag or light material. Wear this bag of material around so you can evaluate and get used to the extra volume and size. This is an important exercise for you to do as you can rule out or confirm the approximate size that you have chosen.

Size with your entire wardrobe as everything will fit differently after the surgery. You want to make sure that you're achieving your goals, and not just adding mass to your body, as that can be uncomfortable and make you self-conscious. You want to be happy with size that you have chosen. Breast augmentation should never be taken lightly. It is elective surgery and can have complications.

Do not be influenced by others

Make sure when you make the final decision to have surgery, you pick the size that you are comfortable with. Don’t be influenced by others as you are the one that is going to be wearing the implants around. It’s your body and therefore the final decision is yours. Be diligent about choosing your size and pick the one that fits your body. A 300cc implant can be placed in four different people and will give you four different results because everyone is built differently. Therefore, just because your friend had a 300cc implant, doesn’t mean that you should also get the same implant.

Do not be surprised with asymmetries

Everybody’s chest and breast are different from one side to the other. Implants can be viewed as a magnifying glass as everything on your chest and breasts are enlarged. Pre-existing unevenness can be seen after surgery as your plastic surgeon has made you aware of it. Understand what your results are going to be and have a clear expectation of your results and whether they are achievable. There is no guarantee that after your breast augmentation procedure that your result is what you expected. It is important to have realistic expectations.

Jumping cartoon

Over time, your breasts can change due to aging, weight fluctuations, hormonal factors and gravity. If after a period of years you become dissatisfied with the appearance of your breasts, you may choose to undergo a breast lift or implant exchange to restore a more youthful contour. It’s important to know that your breast implants are not permanent and may require replacement during your lifetime. Breast augmentation still remains one of the most rewarding procedures for women since an immediate change is noted.

More expert advice about Cosmetic Surgery

Photo Credits: Photo provided by and an actual patient of Dr. Allen Gabriel; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas -

Allen Gabriel MD, FACSBoard-Certified Plastic Surgeon and Assistant Professor

Board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Allen Gabriel understands that plastic and reconstructive surgery provides a unique opportunity to deal with a wide variety of needs ranging from addressing congenital anomalies, to breast reconstruction foll...

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