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The INS and OUTS of Breast Implants

If I have breast augmentation surgery what type and shape of implants are the best? How long do the implants last? Can I breastfeed afterwards? These are some of the questions about breast implants that I get asked every day by women who have been thinking about and researching breast augmentation surgery. There is a lot of information available about breast implants and breast augmentation surgery via your search engines, but it’s not always reliable. This article will attempt to answer some of the most commonly asked questions. However, I need to preface this by saying that it is not a substitute for an in-depth consultation with a Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon who can talk with you about your specific concerns and explore the benefit versus risk equation with you. All surgery is influenced by what each person is trying to achieve and other factors that can influence the final outcome, like natural breast shape and skin quality.

What is breast augmentation surgery? Often this is an aesthetic surgery undertaken by women who never developed their ideal breast size or women whose breasts have decreased in size and would like to restore fullness to them. Breast implants can also be used in a reconstructive manner, to restore the size and shape of a breast or breasts following mastectomy. The first breast augmentation occurred in 1962 in the USA, and over the last ten years, it has arguably become the most popular aesthetic operation in Australia.

What type and shape of implants are the best? High-quality implants from a proven supplier are essential. The implants themselves are either filled with a silicone gel or a saline solution. A silicon outer shell that is either smooth or textured in appearance covers both types of implants. This outer shell affects how they feel and movement within the breast pocket. There are two main shapes of implants – round or teardrop. The latter also known as anatomical, or contoured.

The shape can affect the amount of fullness in the upper or lower part of the breast, and will be better suited to you depending on the amount of ptoisis (sagging) you have, nipple placement, how wide or close-set your breasts are, the amount of breast tissue you have, your natural breast shape, and the aesthetic outcome you are hoping for. Sometimes bringing photos to your consultation of the outcome you would like to achieve can assist with a discussion about what shape implant is most likely to achieve your desired outcome.

How long do implants last for? Most surgeons and implant manufacturers will quote ten years for the expected period a breast implant is reliable. It is possible for implants to last up to and even beyond 20 years. They may need to be replaced if surrounding tissue has hardened (capsular contraction), which can change the appearance and feel of the breast, or if the implants rupture. An ultrasound or MRI can confirm the condition of your implants and is recommended if you notice a change in your breasts at any stage or around the ten-year mark if there have been no changes. The important thing to remember with breast augmentation surgery is that you may need further surgery at some point in your life to remove and/ or replace the original implants. The younger you are for your initial implant surgery means a higher likelihood of further surgery later on.

Can I breastfeed with breast implants? In general, it should be possible to breastfeed after breast augmentation with implants. This is especially the case when the surgery is performed with an incision in the lower breast fold, known as an infra-mammary incision. However, like all surgeries, the procedure carries an element of risk that should be considered in your decision-making process and in consultation with your Specialist Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon.

If you would have questions you would like Dr Avery to answer, please email

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