Breast augmentation is one of the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures in the United States. Thousands of women of all ages seek out the procedure each year for a variety of reasons ranging from aesthetic concerns to needing reconstruction after a mastectomy. But even though women all over the country safely undergo breast augmentation annually, many prospective patients are concerned about the safety of breast enhancement.
Because the procedure is quite invasive, it’s fair to wonder about the safety of breast augmentation. It’s important to know all the facts before making the big decision to move forward with cosmetic surgery.
The Safety of Breast Implants
Generally speaking, there are two types of breast implants that are currently available in the US: silicone and saline. While the inside of each of these implants differs, their outsides are both made up of a silicone shell. Silicone breast implants are filled with silicone gel while saline breast implants are filled with sterile salt water.
Silicone Breast Implants
Silicone breast implants, also known as silicone gel implants, were first introduced in 1962. By the 1980s, these implants had become hugely popular, but there were also certain potential safety issues coming to light.
It was believed that if a silicone breast implant were to rupture, the woman would have a high risk of developing a number of autoimmune conditions, including fibromyalgia, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, to name a few. While many women experienced a number of symptoms associated with autoimmune diseases after getting implants, many claimed those symptoms subsided after they had their implants removed.
By 1992, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had placed a restriction on the use of silicone breast implants, allowing them only for women who sought breast augmentation for reconstructive surgery after having breast cancer. Over the next 14 years, women could only get saline implants. In 2006, however, the FDA concluded that there was no connection between silicone breast implants and autoimmune disease and approved the implants, effectively putting them back on the market.
Silicone implants have a natural look and feel that is similar to real breast tissue. They are available for women who are 22 and older for augmentation and to women of all ages seeking breast reconstruction following breast cancer treatment.
Saline Breast Implants
Saline breast implants are composed of a silicone shell on the exterior, but inside, they are filled with saline (sterile salt water). When a woman has a breast augmentation with this type of implant, the implants are empty when they are inserted and then filled once they’re in the proper position. This allows the surgeon to use smaller incisions.
Saline implants are available for women who are 18 years of age and older and for women of all ages who seek breast reconstruction after battling breast cancer.
Safety of Breast Augmentation
Research has concluded that there are no noticeable differences in terms of the safety of silicone and saline breast implants. However, there are certain advantages that one type may have over the other. They include the following:
- Ruptures are easier to detect in saline implants. When a saline implant leaks, the body harmlessly absorbs the saltwater and the implant deflates within the chest. Silicone implant ruptures are usually undetectable without imaging and may cause issues in the breasts.
- Silicone implants generally give better aesthetic results due to looking and feeling more natural.
- Saline implants require a smaller incision because they are filled after they are inserted. They can also be more easily adjusted post-surgery if the woman prefers a size difference or some other type of adjustment.
- Saline implants are available for anyone at least 18 years old while silicone is only available to those 22 and older.
When breast augmentation is performed by a reputable, experienced, board-certified surgeon, the procedure is typically very low risk. Patients should be aware of the surgical risks that exist, but the surgery is very safe overall for women who are in good health.
Notable Benefits of Cosmetic Breast Augmentation
Breast augmentation carries a number of benefits for women. The procedure can increase the size and fullness of the breasts, create a more feminine figure, and increase self-confidence. Many women also seek the procedure after losing volume in their breasts after giving birth and may have it performed in conjunction with a breast lift if they experience breast sagging.
Reconstructive Breast Augmentation
Breast surgery is also beneficial for women who have undergone a mastectomy or lumpectomy after going through breast cancer treatment. When performed for this purpose, the procedure is known as breast reconstruction surgery.
In general, women who receive breast reconstruction surgery undergo multiple procedures before their reconstruction is complete. There are also different types of procedures they may get depending on the type of mastectomy they have had and their body type.
The procedures are divided into two categories: flap reconstruction and implant-based reconstruction. Flap reconstruction relies on the woman’s own tissue from another part of the body to create a new breast, while implant-based reconstruction uses traditional breast implants.
Consult with an Expert Breast Surgeon
Women in the Houston, Texas area who are interested in getting more information about breast augmentation or breast reconstruction surgery should seek out a board-certified plastic and cosmetic surgeon with the experience, skill, and dedication needed to perform such procedures.
Dr. Paul Vitenas is one of Houston’s top plastic surgeons and strives to deliver the most beautiful, natural results to all his patients. He welcomes all to Vitenas Cosmetic Surgery in Houston, Texas. Call 281.484.0088 to schedule a consultation.