There are so many shapes and sizes of breast implants available that it can make your head spin!
Have no fear though! Choosing the perfect size is a lot easier than it sounds.
Spend Time With Your Plastic Surgeon
I think this is the most important part of choosing breast implants. The best way to pick the perfect size is to be on the same page with your plastic surgeon, and you can’t possibly be on the same page unless you get to know each other. It’s almost impossible for your surgeon to get a feel for your personality during a quick 30-minute consultation, but your personality is one of the main things that helps an experienced breast implant surgeon anticipate “the look” that you’ll be happy with. I routinely spend 60-90 minutes with breast augmentation patients, and I think it helps us both feel confident in the ultimate size choice.
Let the Measurements Be Your Guide
Measurements are key. The “right size” for you has nothing to do with your cup size… it has to do with body size… more specifically, it has to do with the measurements of your breasts in relation to the rest of your chest and rib cage. Everyone knows that breast implants look fake and unnatural if they are too big, but what most women don’t realize is that implants that are too small also look fake! The best way to avoid this problem is for your surgeon to take measurements during the consultation and use them to determine an appropriate range of implants to begin choosing from. I always show my patients exactly how I use those measurements to start selecting appropriately sized implants, and we choose the best set of implants together. Be weary if your surgeon doesn’t take any measurements, and make sure you ask for an explanation as to why they didn’t. Choosing breast implants without measurements is almost the same thing as making an educated guess.
Look at Sample Breast Implants
I always show my patients sample breast implants of all different shapes and sizes, and I usually have them place a few sizes in their bra during that visit. This not a very accurate way of choosing a size, but it can certainly point us in the right direction, especially when we consider your measurements at the same time. If your surgeon has sample saline and silicone implants, take the opportunity to feel both of them. This is a great way to make the other important decision in breast augmentation surgery… saline vs silicone.
Look at Before & After Photos
I spend a long time looking through Before & After photos with my patients, and I encourage them to spend lots of time on their own looking at photos on the website before and after their consultation. It is tremendously helpful for me to know which photos you like and which you don’t. We talk about the different shapes, sizes, spacing, roundness, fullness, etc etc etc, until we have your favorite 3 photos nailed down. Since I know exactly what size breast implants I used in all of my Before and After photos, this definitely helps us pin down a size.
Look at Magazine Photos
I always ask my patients to bring in magazine photos that they like. This isn’t so much about the size as it is about the look… I want to know how my patients want to LOOK after surgery… sexy, natural, defined cleavage, close together, big, small.. all of these things are part of “the look” you want. Similar size breast implants can look very different on different body types, so looking at pictures that my patients find attractive is really important in helping me choose an implant that will give them the look they’re after. Believe it or not, ti is actually more helpful for you to look through photos don’t include clothing like bras and bathing suits, so don’t be embarrassed to flip through the pages of Playboy if you’re spending time finding pictures. Most experienced plastic surgeons will not be surprised if you bring in photos from magazines like this, so don’t worry about it.
Meet With Your Plastic Surgeon More Than Once
Let’s face it… sometimes things change. That’s why I always meet a few times with my breast augmentation patients before surgery. The vast majority of the time, we don’t make any major changes, but every once in a while a patient will say that they want to go slightly larger or smaller than we initially planned. Even though this happens infrequently, I still believe that meeting more than once helps us both feel 100% confident that we’re choosing the perfect size.
Consider Adjustable Breast Implants
Adjustable breast implants are a great option for women who just can’t come to a size decision that they feel comfortable with. Having the ability to make minor adjustments to the size of the implant after surgery can be a great thing, but it has some disadvantages too. The first major disadvantage is that you can’t have silicone implants if you want them to be adjustable. If you aren’t sure why that’s important, click here to read more about the differences between saline and silicone. The second major disadvantage of adjustable breast implants is that you will need a second surgery to remove the port that is used to adjust the size of the implant. This port is placed underneath the skin next to the implant (usually in the armpit). Each time you want a size change, your surgeon uses a needle to access the port and add or remove saline. Once you’re happy with the size, the port has to be surgically removed. My personal opinion is that it’s better to spend a little more time taking measurements and looking at photos with your surgeon before the surgery than it is to spend time inflating and deflating your saline implants after surgery. That being said, I always offer them to patients who are really struggling with the decision over what size they want.
Short answer: 2 weeks. Long answer: It depends on what you mean by safe!
Immediately after breast implant surgery, there are millions of tiny blood vessels that are trying to their best to heal. These new vessel connections are extremely delicate, and even the smallest elevation in heart rate or blood pressure can cause them to break or leak.
In a recent article in Women’s Health Magazine, Amy Beal and Paige Greenfield say “Breasts are covered in a network of tiny blood vessels that become engorged with blood as heart rate and blood pressure rise during sex, literally causing your boobs to blush.”
More disrupted blood vessels means more bruising and swelling, and a longer recovery. If enough of these new vessels break, you could wind up back in the operating room with a hematoma, and more importantly, with a higher risk of developing a capsular contracture in the future. It takes about two weeks for these blood vessels to heal, so keep it PG until then!
After the 2 week mark, it isn’t the blood vessels that you need to protect; it’s the implant capsule. The capsule is a layer of scar tissue that forms around the implant and eventually helps hold the implant in place. The capsule takes about 6 weeks to fully form, so before this time it is relatively easy to disrupt. If the capsule is disrupted, your implants could shift resulting in asymmetry. This is the reason why upper body workouts aren’t recommended until 6 weeks after breast augmentation, but it’s also the reason why you need to be careful in the bedroom!
UNDER OR OVER THE MUSCLE?
OVER THE MUSCLE IMPLANTS
One option for breast implants is to have the implants rest above the muscle in your chest, also known as a sub-mammary (or sub-glandular) placement. The muscle we’re talking about is the pectoralis major muscle, the largest single muscle in your upper chest.
Choosing to place your implants above your pectoralis major muscle – and thus below your breast – gives you several benefits, including:
- More lift and less natural sag than implants under the muscle
- No movement of the implant associated with muscle contraction
- Normal strength and function of the muscle
- Quicker recovery on average than other types
Note that with this procedure, the implant is more likely to be seen in the upper part of the breast, and may lead to a slightly less natural look if you are very thin.
Under the Muscle Implants
An alternative to sub-glandular placement is sub-muscular placement, in which the implant is inserted beneath the pectoralis major muscle with what is called a “dual plane” augmentation in which the upper portion of the implant is covered with the pectoralis muscle and the lower portion of the implant is covered solely with breast tissue.
This type of placement gives several different qualities in contrast to sub-glandular placement, such as:
- Less implant visibility in the upper part of the breast
- A possibility of a slight loss in strength to your normal muscular functions
- Movement of the breast when exercising because the implant is beneath the muscle
- Slightly longer recovery and more discomfort after surgery (when compared with over the muscle techniques)
Choosing the Right Approach
As with any major medical decision, you should arrive at a choice only after consulting closely with your plastic surgeon. Be honest and open; tell him or her exactly what you want, and let them guide you to the right choice with your input.
Note that in any case, the smaller the implant, the more natural the look (because you have more breast tissue available to hide the implant). Since implant size is a major factor, take that into consideration when looking at the two above approaches.
Have a good, two-way conversation with your plastic surgeon and together you will find the right combination and right approach for your new procedure!
SALINE OR SILICONE?
The “silicone scare” is old news, and silicone breast implants are rapidly becoming the favorite for breast augmentation surgery. If you’re considering breast implants, but are still a little skeptical about silicone, make sure you do some research before you make a decision. You don’t have to rely on second-hand, outdated information. Check out the 3 main reasons why silicone implants are becoming the “gold-standard”.
#1 They’re not Saline
One of the main reasons why silicone implants are skyrocketing is an obvious one; they aren’t saline. Saline implants are really just high-tech water balloons, and as you might expect, water balloons don’t make the best breasts. Saline implants tend to feel much harder than silicone, and they don’t look very natural either. They are more likely to wrinkle under the skin, which makes them look “fake”, and they are probably more likely to give you a “capsular contracture“, which can sometimes necessitate further surgery. Everything considered, you probably don’t want to spend $1200 on a water balloon… that sounds like something the government would do
#2 They’re Soft
The biggest difference between saline and silicone is how they feel. While neither of them feels exactly like a natural breast, silicone is definitely a closer match. It’s much more supple, and moves in a more natural way. The best way to experience this difference for yourself is to talk to other women with implants. Most ladies who are considering breast augmentation have friends who have implants, so don’t be afraid to ask. Another great way to compare is to ask your surgeon to see some samples in the office. You can squeeze them until your heart’s content and decide for yourself which one feels more real. You can also order Breast Implant Starter Kits from many of the major implant manufacturers like Allergan and Mentor. The kits include a few sample sizes and some very useful brochures. You can even put the implants in your bra at home to get an idea of how they would look.
#3 They’re Safe
The safety concerns over silicone implants that originated more than a decade ago were largely the result of unsubstantiated information that the media chose to publicize without knowing whether or not their stories had any factual basis. After years of internal review of the science behind the safety of silicone, the FDA fully approved their use for breast augmentation, and noted that there has never been any hard evidence to support the dangers that were heavily scrutinized by the media in the past. It’s also noteworthy that silicone breast implants happen to be the most common implant used for breast reconstruction surgery, which undoubtedly speaks to their safety profile.
The first generation of silicone breast implants was produced in the 1960′s. They were essentially plastic balloons filled with liquid silicone gel. The plastic shells were very thick to prevent the gel from leaking, but this thick shell also made them feel very unnatural. Shortly thereafter, the next generation of implants was designed with a thinner shell to give them a softer feel, but this one ended up being too thin and resulted in an increased number of gel leaks. The third generation went back to the idea of a thicker shell, but this time a more supple material was used to keep them feeling soft and natural. This generation of implants was used safely for many years, but since engineers don’t always follow the rule “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” they couldn’t keep themselves from building a better boob!
The most modern generation of silicone implants still have a thick and soft shell, but are no longer filled with liquid silicone . “Cohesive” gel has replaced it, and this has proven to be the silver bullet for any leftover anxiety about the safety of silicone implants. The gel is “cohesive” because it sticks to itself and keeps it’s shape even if it’s outside the shell, much like a Gummy Bear candy… hence the nickname “gummy bear implants”. This is an extremely important concept when it comes to leaks. If you do a little voodoo dance and poke a gummy bear with a pin, nothing happens, right? Nothing pours out. It doesn’t leak. And it doesn’t deflate. It’s still a yummy gummy bear. It’s the same idea with a cohesive gel implant; because there’s no liquid inside, leaks are a thing of the past.
If you want a soft, natural result from a breast implant, silicone is definitely the way to go. Saline implants still have a role for a select group of women, but they are kind of like spending your money buying a busted up 1982 VW bug when you can afford a cute little 2010 Mercedes convertible. Silicone is without question the Mercedes of breast implants, so don’t make a decision without doing your homework.
BREAST IMPLANTS TAKE ABOUT 3 MONTHS TO “DROP” INTO POSITION
Those fantastic results take a little time though. It’s very common for brand new breast implants to sit a high on the chest, but this shouldn’t worry you. There are a few reasons why implants sit high right after surgery, but the most common reason is that your surgeon put them there on purpose to compensate for the fact that your skin will stretch over the first 2-3 months after the procedure. As the skin stretches, the implants descend into their final perfect position.
In the above picture series, you can see how brand new breast implants drop over the first 3 months after surgery.
The implants are sitting fairly high on the chest, and they are quite swollen. The nipples are pointing down just ever so slightly because of the high position of the implants, and this gives the illusion that the breasts are sagging a bit. This is entirely normal and expected at only one month after surgery.
You can see that the implants have descended a few centimeters, and the nipples are in the center of the implant. The illusion of sagging has disappeared, as has most of the swelling.
The implants have dropped into their ideal position, and the swelling has completely resolved. The nipples are in the center of the implant, and they are now pointing just slightly skyward. This new position reflects the final few centimeters of implant descent, and the ideal position for breast implants in relation to the overlying breast.
STUDY SAYS THAT BREAST AUGMENTATION IMPROVES YOUR SEX LIFE!
A recent survey conducted among members of RealSelf.com found that women who have undergone cosmetic breast surgery are happy about having a better sex life!
- 61% reported having sex more frequently
- 70% reported having an overall more satisfying sex life
“I’ve seen so many women come into the office after having a breast augmentation, breast lift, or breast reduction, and they carry themselves differently. They stand up straighter, they smile more, they dress up a little more, and the feel happier! There’s no doubt that feeling more attractive leads to better relationships in and out of the bedroom,” says New York Plastic Surgeon Dr. Nicholas Vendemia.
Dr. Vendemia adds, “Sometimes couple are a little too anxious to get back to the bedroom after surgery, but it’s really important to wait a while before getting back into action. Strenuous activity of any kind, including sex, too soon after surgery can lead to serious problems, so be careful and take lots of cold showers for the first two weeks!”
HOW MUCH DOES BREAST AUGMENTATION COST?
There is a plethora of things to consider if you’re thinking about getting breast implants…
Saline or silicone? Under the muscle or over the muscle? Which surgeon should you choose? And, of course, how much do they cost?
Keep Reading to get the low down on the cost of breast augmentation surgery!
Ask the Right Questions
Asking the right questions is the most important thing you can do during your consultation. The following list is a good starting point:
- How much does the surgery cost?
- Does that price include everything (implants, post op visits, special garments, etc)?
- Does that price include a fully trained anesthesiologist and use of an accredited operating facility?
- Is the entire amount due at once?
- Are there any financing options available?
The fee for your surgeon’s work runs between $3000 – $5000 depending on his or her assessment of how difficult your procedure will be, and how much time it will take. This fee may also be higher with surgeons who have a great deal of experience with breast augmentation.
Silicone breast implants cost about $2000, and saline implants range from $1200 – $1400. This is an obvious way to save money if you’re OK with the decision to use saline implants, but make sure you have all the information on saline vs silicone before you decide… it’s not only a monetary decision!
Fees for an anesthesia team and use of an operating facility generally add up to $2000 – $3500 depending on the amount of time your surgeon needs to perform the procedure. Some surgeon’s recommend “awake” breast augmentation surgery that doesn’t require an anesthesiologist. While this is another obvious way to save money, it’s not the safest, or the most comfortable, way to have the operation. An anesthesiologist not only makes sure that your experience is pain-free and enjoyable, but also watches you like a hawk during the procedure, and makes sure that you’re safe, safe, safe!
Additional Fees to Know About
- Special garments: Some surgeons require you to purchase special bras or garments before surgery. Make sure you ask whether or not the garments are necessary, how much they cost, and if there are any less expensive alternatives.
- Labwork: Some surgeons require a basic set of blood work before the procedure. Most of the time your insurance company will cover these tests, but not always.
- Mammogram: If you haven’t had a mammogram within 12 months of your surgery date, you’ll need to get one. Mammograms will usually be covered by your insurance company, but sometimes they aren’t.
- Post-op Complications: This is one area that is sometimes overlooked during your consultation. Complications like bleeding and infection are extremely rare with breast augmentation surgery, but they do happen. If you experience one of these complications and need to be seen in an emergency room (or hospitalized), you may be responsible for the bill. Some insurance companies will cover incidents like these even though the procedure is classified as “cosmetic”, but many won’t. Talk to your surgeon about these possible fees, and make sure you’re comfortable with his or her explanation before you proceed.
Most reputable plastic surgeons offer at least one financing plan through organizations like Care Credit. If you have a reasonable credit score, chances are that you’ll qualify for a great financing plan, some of which even offer a 6-12 month period of 0% interest!
The Bottom Line
The average total cost of breast augmentation surgery ranges from $6000 – $10,000 depending on all the factors above, your surgeon’s geographic location, and your surgeon’s level of experience.
If you come across prices that seem too good to be true, be suspicious! Make sure that surgeons offering low prices are fully trained plastic surgeons (many are not). Make sure that the price being advertised includes all of the fees listed above. And make sure that the price includes an anesthesiologist to watch over you during the procedure.
Breast augmentation surgery is consistently the most popular cosmetic procedure in the country, but it is real surgery and should be taken very seriously. The worst mistake you can make is to bargain shop for the cheapest price. First and foremost, you want to be safe, and after that, you want to love your result!