What’s the first thing that comes to mind if you’re considering breast augmentation? For most women, it’s choosing the size of breast implants. At our Richmond, VA, plastic surgery practice, we use the MENTOR® Volume Sizing System to help patients select the implant volume that best meets their desired results.
But size is only one of the factors that breast augmentation patients need to consider when choosing breast implants. The firmness of the implants and their projection are among their choices. Each patient’s specific aesthetic goals and body type influence which options she may prefer. In this blog post, I’ll describe each of these options in more detail and explain why they matter.
It’s natural for patients to describe their breast augmentation goals in terms of bra cup sizes—”I want to be a D cup,” for example. Unfortunately, the cup sizing system used by bra manufacturers isn’t standardized, so it’s not a useful way to select a breast implant size. Instead, we measure implant volume in cubic centimeters. The size of a 350cc implant is the same regardless of which company makes it. Instead of focusing on bra cup sizes, patients should focus on getting results that appear natural and in harmony with the rest of their bodies. Sizers and 3D imaging help patients visualize potential results. “Wish” pictures showing examples of results—including before-and-after photos—also help narrow a patient’s choices.
The implant’s projection—also called profile—is probably the least well-understood breast implant choice. In simple terms, projection refers to how far implants extend from the chest wall when seen from a profile view. An implant’s profile is just as important to the appearance of the results as the implant size. That’s why I recommend a specific profile based on the size of implants and whether a patient has a narrow or wide chest wall. Implant profiles include moderate, moderate plus, and high. Some are taller and narrower, and some are lower and wider for a given volume.
The shells of breast implants can be filled with either saline or silicone gel. The choices don’t end there, however, because the latest generations of silicone gel implants have different levels of cohesiveness—meaning some feel firmer than others. Firmer implants can create a more lifted appearance to the breasts. Cohesive silicone gel implants are the choice of about 85% of breast augmentation patients in the U.S. because most people believe they feel and look more like natural breasts than saline implants.
Where a surgeon places an implant affects the choice of the implant because it will determine the look and feel of the results. In general, implants can be placed either above or under the chest muscle (the pectoralis muscle). The specific placement may be more nuanced, with the implant partially under the muscle, which is called a dual-plane approach. Most plastic surgeons recommend placing implants under the chest muscle because there are fewer complications associated with that location. But placing an implant above the muscle is the correct choice for some patients.
If you’re considering breast augmentation in the Richmond area and want to learn more about breast implants and the procedure itself, use the online form to request a consultation or call us at (804) 267-6009 to schedule an appointment.