Breast Implant Choices

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Choosing to have a breast enhancement procedure is a major decision with long-lasting repercussions. Just as breast shape and size vary from person to person, so do the factors which motivate someone to undergo breast enhancement surgery. For some women, it represents the culmination of a lifelong desire for larger breasts. For others, the motivation may stem from changes in the breast size and shape that are the result of childbearing or significant weight loss. Success in breast enhancement surgery is only possible when the desires of the patient are considered as carefully as the anatomy.

Dr. Steven Vath and Dr. Andrew Wolfe of the Center for Cosmetic Surgery are experts in breast enhancement surgery. At their Denver area practice, Dr. Vath and Dr. Wolfe use their considerable experience to analyze each candidate for breast surgery with regards to her individual goals and physical characteristics. A detailed personal and family history is combined with a thorough physical exam, and Dr. Vath and Dr. Wolfe will fully explain all the options available to the patient.

Anyone researching breast augmentation surgery will find a tremendous amount of information out there, especially on the Web. While some valuable knowledge can be obtained this way, much of the material is misleading or incorrect. How can someone tell the difference? Consultation with an expert in breast augmentation is obviously the most important step.

We recently spoke with Dr. Vath and Dr. Wolfe at their area office concerning choices in breast enhancement surgery. “There are many factors which must be considered when recommending a treatment plan for a particular patient,” says Dr. Vath. “Implant size, shape, and shell texture are all important issues. In addition, we must help the patient choose a location for the incision, and decide whether the implant will be placed above or beneath the chest muscles.” The sheer volume of information that must be conveyed to the patient during a consultation is considerable. “The consultation generally lasts an hour or more,” says Dr. Wolfe. “Any less and I feel that I’m rushing the patient. There are a lot of decisions to be made, and they’re all important in achieving success.”

There are many different types of breast implants. One of the major distinctions is between saline and silicone implants. “The shell of all implants is a silicone-based plastic that can be filled with a silicone gel or saline,” explains Dr. Vath, who also notes that saline implants are available to all, while silicone is reserved for certain types of patients. Dr. Vath continues, “Patients who are candidates for silicone implants are those who are either reconstructive cases after mastectomy, revision cases after previous augmentation, or patients who require a breast lift at the time of their augmentation. In addition, certain breast or chest wall deformities may qualify a patient for silicone implants.” Dr. Wolfe stresses that there are benefits and drawbacks to both types of implant. “The main advantage of silicone is the natural feel. In most patients, a silicone implant is virtually undetectable, while a saline implant can often be felt within the breast.” Saline implants do have some advantages which may offset the less natural feel. Saline implants are less expensive, more precisely adjustable, and can be inserted through a smaller incision. “More significantly,” says Dr. Vath, “saline implants are easier to deal with if they leak, as they just deflate. Leaking silicone can cause a buildup of scar tissue around the implant that requires more extensive surgery to correct.” Both Dr. Wolfe and Dr. Vath stress to their patients that the “silicone scare” of the late 80’s was a combination of speculation, bad science, and media hype, and that silicone implants are safe.