Common Myths About Plastic Surgery

Myth: Silicone breast implants are not safe.

Silicone implants were not used in the US for about 14 years due to concerns about their safety (ruptures, association with connective tissue disorder in some women, etc.). They were approved again for use in 2006 and have steadily gained popularity since. Some of the new silicone implants are marketed as silicone “gel” and have been compared (in terms of their consistency) to a “gummy bear” when pierced or cut. When this occurs, the silicone material retains its shape and does not ooze out as commonly thought. Elaborate and thorough research over the past 10 years have shown that the new silicone implants are safe for use; FDA approval followed in the fall of 2007.

There have been and are extensive studies of silicone implants, and according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, “Silicone is used not only in breast implants but also in implants located literally throughout every part of the body. It has been used: to construct heart valves and other cardiovascular prostheses; to fashion catheters which are used for purposes ranging from drug delivery to cardiac monitoring; in dentistry; in the gastrointestinal tract; as a facilitator for nerve regeneration; in ophthalmology; in the ear, nose, throat, and respiratory tract; as a prosthesis or ingredient in prostheses for many parts of the skeletal system; as a tissue expander; as a cosmetic agent for treatment of scars and wrinkle…”

Silicone implants have some aesthetic benefits. They have a lower rate of rippling and wrinkling than saline implants and may be a better fit (literally and figuratively) for some women. In fact, thin women with modest breast tissue may choose the option of having implants placed over the muscle without sacrificing aesthetics. Also, because silicone is lighter than saline, the risk of downward displacement due to gravity is lower. And many women find that they like the look and feel of silicone implants, which feel more like natural breast tissue.

Is there a downside to silicone implants? Sure. If there is a rupture of some kind, it’s still going to be difficult to detect. It is recommended that patients with silicone implants get routine MRIs and follow up regularly with their doctors. Because the implants are already filled when they’re placed inside of you, the surgeon will make a longer incision than with a saline implant. Also, some methods of insertion- such as the transaxillary (or armpit) approach- are not recommended for silicone implants for the same reason as well.

Other risks involve infection and capsular contracture. Infection rates for saline and silicone implants are comparable, thus neither being any more risky than the other. Capsular contracture is the effect of the body’s reaction to the implant. The body forms a capsule of fibrous tissue around the implant (as it does with all foreign bodies- glass, other implants, etc…), and most of the time this capsule remains soft and pliable. Sometimes, the capsule can become firm and hard, and on occasion, painful. As it is with infection, the rate of capsular contracture for the new silicone implants is comparable, if not slightly lower, than saline implants. Therefore, the two risks are not a factor of the material of the implants themselves, but more a factor of just having an implant itself.

Of course, saline implants themselves have many benefits…it’s easier to see ruptures on a scan, they can be “adjustable” (your doctor inflates them after they have been inserted – even sometimes after you’ve left the operating room).

In the end, however, the decision about which implants to use will be up to you and your doctor.

As always, be sure to ask plenty of questions and make sure that your doctor answers your questions “in plain English” so that you are making the best decision for you and your family.

Myth:It’s easy to tell if someone has had breast augmentation just by looking at them

This is a myth. You absolutely do not have to look like you’ve had implants unless that’s the outcome you desire. There are many choices for breast augmentation, and this is another reason why it’s important to ask to see your doctor’s before and after pictures and talk to other people who have implants. You definitely want to think about how you want to look and feel after your augmentation. These days, there are many, many options for the size, shape and placement of your implants… You can get high profile implants, low profile implants, silicone or saline implants… You can opt for a natural looking breast, breasts that defy gravity (and nature)…or some happy medium in between. The important thing is that you are healthy and happy after your surgery.

Before you make the decision to have breast augmentation, think about what you want the end result to be…and don’t be shy about making your preferences known.

Do you feel like your breasts have never really fit your frame and want to just add a little volume so that they fit your body better? Is one of your breasts considerably larger than the other? Do you need some help so that they match? Or do you want a whole new look?

A good plastic surgeon with experience should be able to help you get the breasts you feel you should have been born with. But you have to be as specific as possible about the end result. So you will want to think about a number of things… and be prepared to answer these questions before you talk to your surgeon.

How do you want your breasts to look under a shirt?
How do you want your cleavage to look in a bathing suit or low cut top?
What size bra do you want to wear?
Do you want to look like you were born with your new breasts?
Are you athletic (i.e. a long distance runner)?
Is there someone you know (or maybe a celebrity – A list or D list) who has a figure you’d like to achieve? – If so, bring a picture to your appointment. But please keep in mind that your end result is going to depend a lot on your own physical characteristics / frame…and that the size and shape of your implant will depend a lot on you.

When you talk to your plastic surgeon, don’t leave anything out, and don’t be shy. If you’re on the fence about the size you want, be sure to speak up. The two of you can work it out together to ensure that you get the outcome you’re hoping for… If you feel like your surgeon is not listening to you, or if you feel like they want to give you a result that is different from the one you have in mind, perhaps this surgeon is not for you. At the very least, your surgeon should be able to talk to you “in plain English” to ensure a great outcome!

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.