Frequently Asked Questions: Breast Implants

1. How long do breast implants last?

Breast implants are man-made synthetic devices, so they will wear out with time.  In general, the shell of the implant begins to wear out at ten years, but in some cases the implant remains intact for 20 years or longer.  In these cases, I recommend leaving the implant alone.

2. What should be my main concerns when choosing breast implant sizes?

Measuring for breast implants is based upon the patient’s anatomy and tissue characteristics. The most important factors I examine are the base width of the breast, and the amount of tissue stretch in the breast.  A patient with a narrow width to her breast and tight tissues will need a smaller implant than a patient with loose tissue and a wider breast after breastfeeding.

3. Breast sizes are typically measured by bra cup sizes, is this a good way to choose a breast implant size? If not, what is the best way?

Cup sizes vary widely from one manufacturer to the next, so this is an unreliable way to choose an implant size.  It is nonetheless helpful for the surgeon if you can state approximately what cup size you hope to attain, in order to get an idea of your goals.  The best way to choose a size is to allow your surgeon to measure your breast base width and tissue stretch, and then select and implant that will fit within those dimensions while meeting your goals.

4. How long is the recovery time for breast implants?

Most patients should take 4-5 days off work, and avoid exercise and sexual activity for 2-3 weeks.  The breasts will be sore for 2-3 days after surgery, but severe pain is unusual and should be reported to your surgeon.

5. Can pregnancy affect my breast implants?

Pregnancy will not affect the implants, but the breast tissue will become larger during pregnancy, and then regress following that time.

6. Is it possible to breastfeed with breast implants?

Yes, many women have been able to breastfeed successfully with breast implants.  There is no danger to your infant.

7. How long should I wait before revising my breast implants?

It’s not necessary to revise breast implants unless there is a problem.  It is helpful to see your surgeon on a yearly basis following augmentation to ensure that your implants look and feel the way they should.

8. What questions should I ask my surgeon about breast implants?

It’s very helpful to ask about the different types of implants that the surgeon prefers to use, and why. You should be able to see samples of the implants and feel them during your initial consultation.  Ask about rupture rates, revision rates, and the rate of capsular contracture.

9. What breast implant placement and position would give me the most natural look?

Implants can be placed through an infra-mammary, peri-areolar, or trans-axillary incision, and all three will provide a natural look. Implants placed underneath the muscle give a more natural look than those placed on top, as the muscle layer creates a smooth profile.

10. Which are better, silicone or saline breast implants?

Both are excellent choices. Saline implants, and in particular the new Ideal Implant, allow the patient to know if the implant is intact, as rupture will cause an immediate change in the shape and size of the breast.  Silicone gel implants have a very soft and natural feel to them.  Both are safe and approved for use in the US.

11. How large are breast implant scars and can they be hidden when wearing a swimsuit?

Most implant scars are 4-5 cm in length, and can be hidden easily in a bikini top.  Axillary scars, located within the armpit, a bit more noticeable in a bathing suit.