- Breast implants help improve self-esteem, reconstruct breasts after a masectomy, and fix sagging.
- There are two types of implants: silicone, which may be safer, and saline, which look more natural.
- Breast implants cost about $2,500, but the whole procedure can be as much as $14,000.
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From petite to voluptuous, breasts come in a variety of shapes and sizes. But not everyone is happy with the breasts they are born with. In 2020 alone, nearly 200,000 Americans had a breast augmentation procedure.
Breast implants won’t improve your physical health, but studies show that they may boost self-esteem and sexual satisfaction. However, it’s important to note that the procedure is not risk-free.
Who may benefit from breast implants
Breast implants are, of course, one way to boost the self-esteem of women who want larger breasts. Here are some other reasons someone may want to consider breast implants:
- Fixes uneven breasts: Many women have two different sized breasts and for some, it can be bothersome to find the right clothes or bras. Breast implants could be a good option for you.,
- Reconstructs breasts following a mastectomy: Some people have to have a mastectomy, an operation to remove one or both breasts, after breast cancer. In this case, implants can restore the appearance of breasts, says David Shafer, MD, a dual board-certified plastic and general surgeon and RealSelf Advisor. Depression is common among these breast cancer survivors. A large 2013 study of 10,826 breast cancer survivors found that 22% of them experienced this mental health issue. Breast augmentation could have a positive impact on these individuals.
- Fixes sagging from pregnancy or aging: Implants can help address the “sagging and deflated appearance of the breast after weight loss, aging, or pregnancy and breastfeeding,” says Shafer. With implants, breasts will appear rounder and fuller.
Types of breast implants
All breast implants have a silicone outer shell. They are then classified as either saline or silicone, depending on their filling.
- Silicone implants: These are the most popular type of implants, as they feel more natural, says Shafer. Silicone implants, also called “gummy bear implants,” are made of silicone gel that maintains its shape and form but feels naturally soft. Because of their solid-state gel, they’re less likely to leak, even if the shells rupture.
- Saline implants: Saline implants are filled with salt water. Though they don’t feel as natural as silicone, they’re typically less expensive. But they do carry the risk of “rippling”- meaning that some wrinkles from the implant could be visible under the skin.
Implants also differ by shape and can be either round or teardrop-shaped. The latter may be more natural-looking, but there’s a small risk they can rotate which could require surgery.
The breast implant procedure
The surgery is relatively speedy, taking around 60 to 90 minutes, with another hour for recovery. Here’s what to expect:
- The anesthetist first administers medication to put you to sleep during the surgery. They’ll recommend either intravenous sedation, meaning you’re conscious but numb, or general anesthesia, which puts you in a sleep-like state.
- Once you are anesthetized, “the surgeon makes an incision either in the crease under the breast, along the edge of the areola, or in the armpit,” says Ramanadham.
- They then create a pocket either above or below the muscle that lies under your breast.
- The surgeon will then insert the implant and then close the incision.
“Most people take 2 to 3 days off from work and activities to recover, and 2 to 4 weeks off from strenuous exercise,” says Shafer.
As you recover, your surgeon may limit the amount of weight you can lift or specific exercises that put pressure on the chest such as push-ups. You may also need to hold off on swimming and wearing underwired bras.
Although you can resume normal activities in the first few weeks after the procedure, you won’t heal fully for several months.
Breast implants are a great option to fix aesthetic issues with your breasts, such as unevenness or sagging, or to boost your body image. Whether you choose round or teardrop-shaped, silicone, saline, or gummy bear implants, expect to pay around $8,000 to $14,000 for the procedure.
If you’re considering breast implants, be sure to consider the risks alongside the benefits and consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon before making your decision.