Breast Augmentation FAQs

What Is a Silicone Gel Breast Implant?

A silicone gel breast implant consists of an outer shell that is made of a medical grade silicone elastomer and filled with a medical grade clear silicone gel. The outer shell may be smooth or textured. Additionally, different types of silicone gel implants may be softer or firmer depending on their molecular cross-linking. (See What is gel cohesiveness? for more information.)

What is gel cohesiveness?

Silicone can exist as a liquid, a solid or anything in-between, and gel cohesiveness is a way to describe how liquid or solid the silicone is, and it is determined by the amount of molecular cross-linking. A less cohesive silicone has less cross-linking and is more liquid; in contrast, a highly cross-linked silicone is a more cohesive gel and is more solid or firm. “Gummy Bear” implants contain a more highly cohesive silicone gel so they are able to retain their anatomic shape.

Are silicone breast implants safe?

The Institute of Medicine concluded that: “There is no evidence that silicone implants are responsible for any major diseases of the whole body. Women are exposed to silicone constantly in their daily lives.”1
1 Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Medicine 2007. Information for women about safety of silicone breast implants (full article www.iom.edu).

Are breast implants permanent?

Breast implants are not intended to last forever. The FDA recommends removal of breast implants with/without replacement at 15-years. We advise that you begin thinking about exchanging them around 10 years after placement.

What are complications that can occur following breast augmentation surgery?

Complications that have been observed with breast augmentation surgery include: infection, delayed healing, seroma or hematoma formation (fluid build-up or bleeding in the surgical site), changes in nipple sensation, changes in ability to breastfeed, capsular contracture, implant rupture. Adhering to our pre and postoperative care instructions will greatly decrease your risk of developing complications after surgery. Click here to view more information pertaining to potential risks associated with breast augmentation surgery.

What is capsular contracture?

When any device is placed inside the body, whether a knee, hip, or breast, your body naturally forms a scar around it. A complication that can occur with breast implants is the development of a thick, tight scar around the implant; this is called capsular contracture. Please see our section on capsular contracture for more information.

What is animation deformity?

Animation deformity, also known as muscle flexion distortion, can occur with implants placed under the muscle. The name refers to implants that appear fine most of the time but are extremely visible to the point of distorting the breast when the chest is flexed. It is a result of the pectoral muscle adhering to the implant. To correct this complication, a revision surgery to release the muscle is required.

What effect does smoking have on the healing process after surgery?

Nicotine causes blood vessels to constrict. This reduces the blood supply and oxygen to the surgical area. Sufficient blood supply is required for tissues to heal, so when the blood supply is reduced, delayed healing and, possibly, tissue death occurs. While it is best for your overall health not to use tobacco products, if you do use tobacco products, we ask that you refrain from using them for a minimum of 6 weeks before and after surgery.

Is it possible to have a breast augmentation without implants?

Yes, fat grafting can be used to enhance a breast augmentation with implants, or it can be used alone to create a modest increase in breast volume. This procedure harvests fat from unwanted areas of the body, typically the abdomen, flanks and thighs, and transfers it to the breasts. Generally, an increase breast size by a half to a full cup can be accomplished with this surgery, and it can be repeated for greater results. A consultation can guide you in determining if you are a candidate and if this is an appropriate method for you. (See Breast Augmentation with Fat Grafting)

Our Location