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What Is the Difference Between Breast Augmentation and Implants?

When it comes to body shape, there are certain things we can change with lifestyle habits and certain things that are determined by genetics. For example, your weight is something you can change with diet and exercise, but the general shape of your body, such as your breasts, is set by genetic factors. Fortunately, women who want to alter the size and shape of their breasts have a few cosmetic procedure options. At Tampa Bay Plastic Surgery in Tampa, FL, we believe that breast augmentation is one way women can feel more confident about their appearance.

What Is the Difference Between Breast Augmentation and Implants?

Breast augmentation and breast implants are terms that are thrown around interchangeably, but are they really the same? Yes and no. The difference between these two is all about nuance. Augmentation refers to the actual plastic surgery procedure used to enhance the appearance of the breasts, while implants are the tools used to facilitate that change. But when people talk about breast enhancement or augmentation, they are generally referring to using breast implants – this is why either term can be used.

So, what does breast augmentation do? The goal of this procedure is to change the size, shape, and overall volume of the breasts. Women who use this procedure are typically not satisfied with their existing breast tissue, so this procedure is used to make the breasts larger with artificial implants. For the implants, there are several different options you will be able to choose from to achieve your specific aesthetic goals.

Shape

There are two shapes for breast implants. Round-shaped implants are circular and create even volume in the breast; this shape can be commonly seen in fashion magazines and achieves a shape similar to breasts supported by a push-up bra. Teardrop implants mimic the natural slope and shape of the breasts but increase volume in targeted locations; this implant has more volume at the bottom of the implant, just like a teardrop.

Material

Traditionally, the most commonly used implant materials are saline and silicone. Saline has a firmer texture while silicone more closely resembles the weight of natural breast tissue. Each implant material is equally as popular, so choosing between these materials can be difficult. Women who want a slightly safer option may opt for saline implants just in case of rare implant ruptures, while women who want to avoid rippling or who have thinner breast tissue may prefer silicone.

In recent years, a third material option has been introduced called gummy bear implants. Like real gummy bears, a gummy bear implant has a firm, yet malleable texture similar to natural breast tissue. Unlike other implants, the gummy bear material can maintain its shape and recent studies have suggested this type of implant is much less likely to rupture, ripple, or leak.

Placement

Breast implants are commonly placed above or below the pectoral muscle, and this can greatly impact the overall effect of your procedure. When implants are placed above the muscle, the general procedure is slightly shorter and may have an easier recovery. However, implants placed beneath the muscle are less likely to visibly ripple with age and it may be easier to perform a breast lift later in life with this implant placement.

Which Implant Looks Most Natural?

Because there are so many implant options, it’s very important to discuss all of your aesthetic goals with your plastic surgeon so you can achieve your desired look. Ideally, your implant shape, material, and placement options should also fit your lifestyle, clothing habits, and your comfort preferences.

In terms of which implants look most natural, silicone and gummy bear implants have a texture that is most like natural breast tissue. A teardrop-shaped implant may have a more natural look, but round implants can also look natural in smaller sizes or with the right placement. Ultimately, your surgeon will make recommendations so your results will look natural while also factoring in existing breast tissue and other concerns, such as asymmetry.

What About Fat Grafting?

Patients at Tampa Bay Plastic Surgery may also have the option of fat grafting breast augmentation. With this procedure, breast implants may or may not be used based on your aesthetic goals. Fat grafting can be a more natural way to enhance the size or volume of the breasts, particularly for those who do not need or want to increase a significant amount of breast tissue.

Augmentation with fat grafting works by harvesting fat from one area of the body, preparing the fat, and injecting the fat directly into areas of the breast that have lower volume. It’s common to harvest fat from the middle or lower body, such as the abdomen or the hips. Some women like to combine traditional liposuction with body contouring treatments to reduce overall recovery time.

What Should You Expect From This Procedure?

Breast augmentation is one of the most common plastic surgery procedures performed in America. Your treatment will first begin with a consultation appointment where you and your surgeon will go over your aesthetic goals, your expectations from the procedure, and important information in your medical history. You may need to complete certain labs and examinations to be cleared for surgery. On the day of your surgery, you should arrange for transportation.

Your surgical procedure will take a few hours to complete and you will be placed under general anesthesia the entire time. There are a few techniques that can be used for your procedure; your surgeon will use the technique that is best suited to your existing breast tissue and your treatment plan. Some incisions are placed around the areola, beneath the breast, or through the armpit. After the implants are placed, your incision will be closed and your surgery will be complete.

After Surgery

After your surgery, you will need to wear a special surgical or compression bra that will help your results heal correctly. Most people will be able to return home after the procedure, although they will require assistance during the first week of recovery. You will have several instructions to follow regarding how to sleep, how to care for your incisions, and activities to avoid, including strenuous exercise.

During your recovery, you may have prescriptions for pain relief or topical creams to help your incisions heal. You may have a follow-up appointment to assess your healing one to two weeks after your surgery. Some people may return to work two to three weeks after surgery. Most people will be able to resume lower body exercise after three weeks and full-body exercise after six weeks.

What Do You Need To Know About Results?

Your results will be optimal about two to three months after your surgery, which is when all breast tissue should be adequately healed. Your results should last for at least 10 to 20 years or sometimes longer if the implants remain in good condition. There is a myth that implants need to be replaced every 10 years, but the truth is that implants should only be replaced if they have critical errors, such as a rupture. Many people can enjoy implants for decades.

An estimated 20% to 40% of patients who have an augmentation procedure may opt to have additional breast procedures down the road, such as revision implants, breast reductions, or breast lifts. The longevity of your results will depend on factors such as your genetics, aging, weight maintenance, and even pregnancy.

Who Are Good Candidates?

The vast majority of women who are over 18 years old and who are in good general health are good candidates for this procedure. Many women who use this procedure are not happy with the appearance of their breasts or have very little breast tissue because of illness or weight-related volume loss. Qualified candidates must have a realistic expectation of results, enough time for recovery after the procedure, and must not have any unmanaged health conditions that could interfere with surgery or recovery.  

Feel More Confident About Your Breasts

When it comes to the shape of your body, there’s only so much shapewear and push-up bras can do. Instead of feeling uncomfortable or self-conscious, it may be a better idea to undergo breast augmentation surgery. This procedure is an ideal way for women to enhance the size, shape, and volume of their breasts. Contact us at Tampa Bay Plastic Surgery in Tampa, FL to schedule your consultation with Dr. David E. Halpern today. 

Schedule your consultation with Dr. David E. Halpern today

Dr. David E. Halpern is Tampa’s nationally renowned triple-board certified plastic surgeon, carefully blending expertise and artistry with extraordinary care. For the past two decades, Dr. Halpern’s dedication to exceptional care and commitment to his patients have made him Tampa’s most trusted plastic surgeon. Place your confidence in the capable hands of Tampa plastic surgeon Dr. David E. Halpern by scheduling a consultation today.

Tampa Bay Plastic Surgery is located in the Hyde Park area of South Tampa. We serve patients in Tampa Bay, Hyde Park, and out-of-town patients across Florida and beyond.