Breast Augmentation: What Are Your Breast Implant Options?

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The two main categories of breast implants are silicone gel or saline-filled implants. Silicone gel implants have been popular since the early 1960s, and they have gone through multiple generations of improvements since that time. Silicone gel implants have undergone rigorous studies which have shown they are safe and do not cause breast cancer nor connective tissue disorders.

The main advantage of silicone implants is that they feel more natural than saline implants. Gel implants are less prone to rippling than saline, which makes them particularly advantageous for thin patients. The current 5th generation of silicone implants are cohesive, meaning that the gel is viscous enough that even if the implant ruptures the gel tends to remain in the same place, a little like jelly. Previous generations, the silicone was more like thick maple syrup.

Saline (ie. saltwater) implants have a long record of safety too and are less expensive than silicone gel implants. They are generally placed when they are empty and filled once they are inside the breast pocket, so that the access incisions may be even smaller. When a saline implant leaks, most of the saline from the implant is rapidly and harmlessly absorbed by the body. The deflation is usually obvious, and the patient returns for removal and replacement of the saline implant. This may be done under local anaesthesia if the patient is an appropriate candidate. The primary disadvantage of saline implants is that they don’t look or feel as natural as the silicone gel implants. This is a particularly important issue for women who are thin or have decreased elasticity of their skin.

 To learn more about breast augmentation, request a consultation by contacting us at 13000DRTIM or emailing us at info@drtim.com.au 

Breast Implants: Things to Know Before Getting Them

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There are two main reasons why women get breast implants. The first one is for reconstructive purposes. This is to bring the breast back to its original form after it has been damaged by an injury or by a disease such as cancer.

The second reason has to do with cosmetic or aesthetic reasons. They may want to have fuller breast or breasts that are more symmetrical with one another. It is also a way to boost confidence in their bodies.

The cost of doing such a procedure will vary. Depending on the location, the doctor who will be doing the operation and the type of implant used the cost can run to a couple of thousand dollars.

Breast Augmentation Part 4 of 4: The Facility

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Your safety is of paramount importance when undergoing breast augmentation. Always have your surgery in an accredited hospital or day surgery facility. If you are young and healthy, then a day surgery facility is fine. If you are older and have health problems, then a hospital would be a beer place to have the procedure performed because of the availability and back-up of an intensive care and other highly specialised health staff.

Accredited means that the surgical facility has passed a set of rigorous examinations to assure that the equipment and procedures meet standards for optimal safety. The hospital or day surgery facility should be fully accredited by the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards (ACHS) or a set of ISO standards that provide the highest standards of service. Patient health, safety and comfort should be the surgical facilities main concerns and they should continually monitor and evaluate their performance to achieve this outcome. Another requirement of accreditation is to assure that personnel are trained, experienced and skilled health care professionals and procedures and equipment are in place to deal with any emergency from a power outage to cardiac arrest.

Sometimes it’s reassuring to visit the accredited facility yourself. If you’re not comfortable with a surgical facility, don’t have the breast augmentation surgery there. What you want to see is modern, comfortable surroundings and caring and warm personnel. The operating room should appear state-of-the-art, spotlessly clean and equipped with the most up-to-date equipment. The recovery area should be immediately adjacent to the operating rooms. Some surgical facilities provide overnight accommodations with one-on-one nursing care especially for patients who need overnight care for more extensive procedures.

The following checklist should help you “tie things up” when organising your breast augmentation:

  1. Check date of surgery and pay scheduling deposit if required
  2. Review surgeon’s financial policies and policies for refunds
  3. Sign informed consent and operative consent forms for breast augmentation
  4. Schedule laboratory tests and mammography/ultrasound if required
  5. Review medications to avoid and ones to take before surgery
  6. Review post-operative instructions the night before surgery
  7. On the day of surgery wear comfortable clothes, get someone to drive you home and be with you overnight, wear no make-up, and leave your jewellery and valuables at home

 

Question: What things do you consider important in the surgical facility when having a breast augmentation? You can leave a comment below.

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During each breast augmentation operation, a long-acting local anaesthetic is placed around the implant so that patients will feel only minimal discomfort following surgery. Most of my breast augmentation patients take only a few days off from work to recover whilst others take up to a week. Patients may ease back into their normal exercise routine beginning several weeks after surgery.

 

To learn more about breast augmentations, request a consultation by contacting us at 13000DRTIM or emailing us at info@drtim.com.au 

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There are many reasons why women seek breast augmentation. Some women feel that increasing their breast size will give them greater self-confidence. Others would like to feel more proportional between their top and bottom so they fit better into their clothing. Mothers frequently seek breast augmentation to restore what was lost with breastfeeding and ageing. Supporting loose skin and giving upper breast fullness are also common reasons for choosing breast enlargement.

Good communication with patients in breast augmentation is key. There’s a need to review their medical histories and ask patients what their goals are for breast augmentation. In some cases, it is a modest increase in size to fit better in their clothing. Other times it’s a significant increase in volume to change their look. A patient may desire an improved breast shape or, possibly, better symmetry is their goal. Still others may want to restore their pre-pregnancy figure and may choose to combine their augmentation with a breast lift or other procedures.

On examining the patient, one needs to consider many features including breast volume, width, height, nipple position, areola size, ribcage curvature, skin tone, droopiness, asymmetry, and crease position. Breasts are highly variable, and I help the patient understand what their best options are based on their physical characteristics. We then come to a common agreement about what our goal will be. Remember, that “breast are sisters, not twins” so more often than not there is quite some variation between the two breasts so you can’t expect a perfect match following breast augmentation.

When the patient returns for their pre-operative visit, typically 1-3 weeks before surgery, I have them look through many digital photographs of breasts to show me their desired result. If there is a discrepancy between what we have discussed and what the patient is showing me with pictures, I’ll identify the difference and sort out what they really want, often using the 3D VECTRA which can simulate what the breasts may look like after augmentation. At the end of our meeting, I’m fairly confident that I understand what the patient desires. Likewise, the patient feels comfortable with our communication and our plan.

The photographs are then brought with me to the operating room. When the patient is asleep, I create the pockets for the implants on each of the breasts, and I occasionally use implant sizers to confirm the volume and shape of the optimal breast implants for the patient. Most patients are back to work and most of their usual routine in several days or up to a week. Strenuous exercise should be avoided for several weeks.

To learn more about breast augmentations, request a consultation by contacting us at 13000DRTIM or emailing us at info@drtim.com.au 

Breast Augmentation Part 1 of 4: The Patient

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There are generally three groups of women who frequently consider breast augmentation:

1) Nature ”missed a beat” during breast development

This usually occurs during puberty where the breasts may not develop at all or slightly, resulting in a ”bowling pin” type of a look. Apart from making one feel inadequate because their is a disconnect between the narrower chest to the wider hips, it also makes it difficult buying clothes that fit. Some people revert to using fillers and enhancers but they can never seem to compensate, are temporary measures, and they never feel a natural part of you like breast augmentation. Breasts can also develop unevenly during puberty, causing both difficulty in buying and wearing clothes, as well as, making one feel abnormal or a ”freak”.

2) Nature ”took a toll” during pregnancy and breast feeding

During these times, the breast enlarges and deflates repeatedly. This cycle stretches the breast skin especially in the lower pole, resulting in stretch marks. After breast feeding, the breast tissue itself may ”melt away” (especially in the upper pole), sometimes to a size less than before pregnancy. However, the skin never shrinks back to its original size, therefore, the breasts will appear saggy (think of the skin like an overstretched elastic band which frays at the edges). This is where a breast augmentation and/or a breast lift (mastopexy) can be of great benefit to restore the shape, size and contour of the breasts to the pre-pregnancy state.

3) Nature ”didn’t match desires” of women who want to enhance the shape and appearance of their breasts

Some women want to be the best they can be. Others have developed unattractive breasts or have uneven breasts that makes buying clothes difficult. Still others want to ”marry” or improve the balance between their chest with their hips. Breast augmentation to enhance the chest further or balance the hips can make an enormous difference to ones’ body shape and self-esteem.

Women who fall into any one of the above groups have every right to want to optimise any aspect of their breast appearance. If this involves breast augmentation, then she needs to also think about:

  1. The Procedure
  2. The Surgeon
  3. The Facility

These factors will be individually discussed in subsequent blog posts. Remember that no choice(s) is perfect and that every choice has trade-offs (you need to know them) as well as benefits. Therefore, choose carefully.

Question: What are your reasons for wanting to have breast augmentation? You can leave a comment below.

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Most plastic surgeons favour the infra-mammary incision location for most breast implants. The peri-areolar incision is made as a semicircle at the lower border of the pigmented areola. It does heal beautifully in most cases and uses the interface of the darker and lighter pigmented skin to camouflage the incision. For patients with small areolae, it may be preferable to use the infra-mammary incision, located underneath the breast. This incision also heals very well, and is especially useful for women with well defined creases under their breasts.

The axillary incision (in the armpit) is another option, but it’s better suited for saline implants than silicone gel. Because this access incision is a greater distance from the implant pocket, it’s less precise than the peri-areolar and infra-mammary approaches. Studies have confirmed that there is a higher implant revision rate using the axillary approach. Usually the axillary scars heal well, but they may still be visible when the patient wears sleeveless outfits. There is also a higher rate of breast implant infections with the peri-areolar and axillary approaches.

Patients frequently ask what effect the incision location has on maintaining nipple sensation after surgery. The answer is that the access incision usually has little effect on nipple sensation. Rather, it’s the size of the implant pocket that has the largest impact on nipple sensation. Large implants may require a pocket that stretches the nerves to the point that they do not function well, increasing the odds of impaired nipple sensation. Even so, the vast majority of my patients maintain normal nipple sensation.

Breast implants may be placed over or under the pectoralis major muscle. In the early days of breast augmentation, all implants were placed on top of the muscle. However, in recent decades, it has become more common to place implants underneath the pectoralis major muscle. The muscle covers the top half of the implant, providing additional thickness of coverage over the implant in the critical cleavage area. This makes it less likely that the implant edges or ripples will be visible when wearing a bra or swimsuit. Studies have also shown that the rate of capsular contracture is lower when the implants are placed under the muscle. Breast imaging to screen for breast cancer is more accurate when the implants are placed behind the muscle. For these reasons, I prefer to place implants underneath the muscle for most of my breast implant patients.

 

To learn more about breast augmentations, request a consultation by contacting us at 13000DRTIM or emailing us at info@drtim.com.au 

Breast Implants & Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL)- No Cause For Alarm

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Only recently described, breast implant–associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) usually presents as an effusion-associated fibrous capsule surrounding the implant and less frequently as a mass. Little is known about the natural history and long-term outcomes of such disease. It is estimated that between 5 and 10 million women have breast implants. Due to the rarity of a diagnosis of ALCL (3 in 100 million per year in the USA diagnosed with ALCL in the breast) a worldwide collaboration is required to provide robust data to investigate this possible link.

ALCL is a lymphoma and not cancer of the breast tissue. When breast implants are placed in the body, they are inserted behind the breast tissue or under the chest muscle. Over time, a fibrous scar called a capsule develops around the implant, separating it from the rest of the breast. In women with breast implants, the ALCL was generally found adjacent to the implant itself and contained within the fibrous capsule. ALCL is a lymphoma which is a type of cancer involving cells of the immune system. It is not cancer of the breast tissue.

The most recent clinical studies state that it is not possible to confirm with any certainty whether breast implants have any relation to an increased likelihood of developing ALCL, and particularly whether any one type of implant can create a higher or lower risk than another of developing the disease. It should be noted that ALCL is extremely rare and treatable. This is evidenced in particular by three recent papers:

  1. A Danish nationwide study – ‘Breast implants and anaplastic large-cell lymphoma: a Danish population-based cohort study’– concluded that in a nationwide cohort of 19,885 women who underwent breast implant surgery between 1973 and 2010, no cases of ALCL were identified
  2. A review of cases within another recent comprehensive article, ‘Breast implant-associated anaplastic large-cell lymphoma: long-term follow-up of 60 patients’ concluded that: “most patients with breast implant-associated ALCL who had disease confined within the fibrous capsule achieved complete remission. Proper management for these patients may be limited to capsulectomy and implant removal. Patients who present with a mass have a more aggressive clinical course that may be fatal, justifying cytotoxic chemotherapy in addition to removal of implants.”
  3. In a study reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Roberto N. Miranda, MD, Associate Professor in the Department of Hematopathology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and colleagues assessed disease characteristics, treatment, and outcomes in 60 cases. They found that outcomes are better in women with effusion confined by the fibrous capsule, whereas disease presenting as a mass has a more aggressive clinical course.Patients should be advised that ALCL is a very rare condition and until any further evidence is presented there is no need to remove breast implants as a matter of course.

 

These data suggest that there are two patient subsets. Most patients who present with an effusion around the implant, without a tumour mass, achieve complete remission and excellent disease-free survival. A smaller subset of patients presents with a tumour mass associated with the fibrous capsule and are more likely to have clinically aggressive disease. We suggest that patients without a mass may benefit from a conservative therapeutic approach, perhaps removal of the implant with capsulectomy alone, whereas patients with a tumour mass may need removal of the implants and systemic therapy that still needs to be defined.

 

We continue to advise that any women with breast implants who experience any sudden unexplained changes, lumps or swelling should speak to their GP or their surgeon.