A Guide to Different Breast Augmentation Procedures
Breast augmentation surgery has been commonplace for many years, with the first procedure taking place more than half a century ago in 1962. There are many reasons why people decide to undergo a breast augmentation, from increasing the shape and size of their breasts, to having reconstruction after an illness such as breast cancer. There is more than one way for breast augmentations to be carried out.
We have created this guide to different breast implant procedures to help those interested in breast augmentation understand the process and know which procedure will work best for them.
The different types of breast implant
In the UK, there are two main types of breast implant procedures that can be carried out. These procedures generally depend on the shape and feel of the breast that the patient wants to acquire as a result of the operation.
The two main types of breast augmentation are:
- Silicone/saline implant
- Fat transfer
These two main options for breast augmentation surgery both have their own pros and cons, and it is important to remember that no surgery is completely risk-free. One of these procedures may be more suitable for your needs than the other, so be sure to bear in mind as you read through our guide which one sounds more agreeable for you.
It is essential to fully research and understand the pros and cons of each option, and to talk through breast augmentation surgery with a certified and qualified surgeon before undergoing any procedure.
Using silicone or saline implants is the most well-known breast augmentation procedure. The operation involves:
- Making a cut in the skin, generally under the breast
- Positioning the implant - either between the breast tissue and chest muscle or behind the chest muscle
- Stitching the incision back up
You are normally able to go home the same day after having silicone/saline breast implants, as the procedure does not usually require an overnight stay in hospital.
Pros of implants
- Silicone and saline implants have been in use for many years, and produce a reliable and predictable change to a patient’s breast size. Due to the structure of the impants, this procedure has a high success rate in giving patients the desired size and shape breasts. This reliability makes them a good choice for those who want a more filled and defined look.
- The safety of silicone and saline implants has continued to increase and their design has improved over the years. They are now thought to feel much more natural.
- In addition to their improved design and reliability, silicone and saline implants are quite cost-effective.
- If there are any issues with the breast implants, they can be removed quickly to resolve the problem.
Cons of implants
- Implants carry a risk of a rupture or leakage within the breast pocket. To reduce this risk, implants are usually changed every 10-15 years. While this is obviously necessary for safety, it can be inconvenient and painful to have new implants put in when required.
- Although they are much safer than they used to be, implants still have a risk of becoming visible due to rippling and, in some extreme cases, can flip in the breast pocket. These risks are far more likely to occur if the implants are too large for the breast tissue, causing the implant to become unstable.
- Having implants can also cause capsular contracture, where scar tissue thickens around the implant, resulting in implant distortion and hardening.
- There is also the risk of having an allergic reaction to the implant.
- Due to the invasive surgery required to insert the implants, patients can sometimes be left with visible scars. These will usually heal over time, but every body heals differently, so there is always a risk of the scars healing poorly.
Fat transfer breast augmentation
Fat transfer breast augmentations use your own body tissue to augment the breast. The fat is usually taken from:
Once the fat has been taken from elsewhere in your body, it is then generally injected back into your breasts. Some swelling may occur as the fat settles in your body.
Pros of fat transfer
- Fat transfer uses your own body fat to augment the breast, which is the safest and most natural filling material. Your body will not reject your own fat, as it has already come from inside your body. This also means that there is no risk for allergic reactions as you are using your own body tissue.
- Using your brown natural fat will result in a more natural look and feel to your breasts, compared to how they would feel with silicone or saline implants.
- As the fat is generally injected into your breasts, there is virtually no scarring with this procedure.
- Unlike implants that require replacement every 10-15 years, a fat transfer breast augmentation is relatively low maintenance and needs no replacement, as it is not a danger to your body.
- Due to the fat being transferred from elsewhere in your body, there will be a side effect of body contouring. If the fat has been taken from an area such as your stomach, you will be able to benefit from having a smaller stomach due to the fat being removed from this area.
Cons of fat transfer
Although a fat transfer breast augmentation may seem like a safer option compared to implants, there are still cons that must be considered.
- The cost is generally considerably higher than silicone/saline implants. This is because the procedure is split into two surgeries: the liposuction to initially remove the fat from a specific part of your body, and the second procedure to redistribute the fat into your breasts.
- Patients who are seeking a noticeable difference to the size of their breasts may be disappointed by the results. Fat transfers do not offer the same shape and sturdiness that implants can provide.
- The liposuction that removes the fat from your body can be quite a dangerous procedure to undergo, and in rare instances can cause:
- Bleeding under the skin
- Persistent numbness that lasts for months
- A build-up of fluid in the lungs
- Blood clots on the lungs
- Damage to internal organs
- Fat necrosis (death of fat cells) can also occur. Fat necrosis happens when the fat does not get enough oxygenated blood during the transfer process, which causes fat cells to die. Dead fat cells can form bubbles and lumps in your breast tissue, which can lead to:
- Oily cystic lumps
- Scar tissue
- Pain in the surrounding tissue
Often, lumps from fat necrosis are resolved on their own, but if the lumps are causing the patient considerable pain, they will need to be removed.
- Fat reabsorption can also become an issue. Fat is a natural substance that the body uses to operate on a daily basis, and the body will treat the fat transferred to the breasts the same as it would with any other fat. This means that the body can potentially reabsorb the fat used in a fat transfer breast augmentation procedure. In fact, it is thought that up to 50% of the injected fat is absorbed by your body. This means that, although you may initially achieve your desired breast size, the breast can decrease in size over time.
It is important to recognise that there are pros and cons to both types of breast augmentation procedures. Implants appear to give a better shape, are generally cheaper, and have no risk of being reabsorbed, whereas fat transfers have the ability to be reabsorbed by the body, but have no chance of being rejected by the body.
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