Breast Implants

Plastic surgery doctor draw line patient breastBreast implants are a commonly preformed cosmetic procedure used to make a woman’s breasts bigger and fuller. The surgery can also be performed for reconstructive purposes such as after a mastectomy. There are two different types of breast implants that a women can choose from including saline and silicone. Saline implants use silicone shells filled with salt water that has been sterilized to add size and shape to the breast. The sterile salt water is also referred to as saline. Silicone implants also use silicone shells, but use a plastic gel to fill them. This plastic gel is also referred to as silicone. Many women prefer silicone implants because they imitate the look and feel of a real breast better than saline.


The cost of breast implants varies significantly depending on where you are having the procedure done. The more upscale and reputable the location, the more money you will have to pay. The credentials and experience of the doctor will also factor in to the cost of the procedure. Health insurance does typically not cover breast implants, as it is a cosmetic procedure. If breast implants are part of a reconstructive procedure it may be partially or fully covered. Saline implants cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000. Silicone implants are typically more expensive, costing approximately $1,000 to $3,000 more than saline implants.


In order to be a candidate for breast augmentation a woman must meet certain age requirements. A woman must be at least 18 years old to get saline-filled implants. In order to get silicone implants, a woman must be at least 22 years old. The age requirement allows for the breasts to be completely done growing. Breast tissues can change and continue to develop until a woman reaches her early twenties. It is important to thoroughly research the procedure and make sure that you choose a plastic surgeon that you can trust. Breast augmentation can be done as an outpatient procedure, or you may have to stay overnight in the hospital for observation. The procedure generally takes two hours in which the patient will be given general anesthesia. Depending on what type of implants and the person’s body, the surgeon will make a cut either underneath the breasts, under the arms or around the nipples. The surgeon will put the breast implant into a pocket underneath the chest muscle. Once the implant is in the correct place, the surgeon will close the cuts with sutures and surgical tape.

Health Risks

There are possible complications involved with breast implant surgery including pain in the breasts. It can also cause changes in sensation in the nipple and breast. Many women will also experience scar tissue, hardening of the implant and scarring. Less frequent complications include bleeding, problems with the shape and infections. Sometimes breast implants rupture and leak causing major discomfort. Saline implants will simply deflate and can be safely absorbed into the body if they rupture. Silicone implants may cause a contained leak in the shell of the implant, or make leak into the rest of the body. Silicone implants may show no obvious signs of rupture making it known as a silent rupture. Breast implants may increase the likelihood of developing breast cancer and may make it difficult to breast feed.


Immediately after surgery the breasts will be covered with gauze and bandages. There will also be drainage tubes, which are often removed within a few days. A surgical bra may be necessary as well. It is important to take it easy for the first few days after surgery. Heavy lifting and exercise should be avoided for up to six weeks after surgery. The doctor will prescribe pain medication to alleviate discomfort. There will also be swelling and scarring in the area of the surgery which will fade over time.


Breast implants are not designed to last a lifetime, and need to be replaced every so often. If you have complications or the size and shape of your breast implants change you may need to have them changed. Women who have silicone implants will need to get an MRI three years after the initial surgery. MRI scans are needed every two years after that in order to check for silent ruptures. Breast implants can make it difficult to get an accurate mammogram, but there are now special X-rays that can be preformed.