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Breast Augmentation 101: Understanding Breast Implant Options


There are several alternatives to consider when making choices about your breast implants.

Once a woman has made the decision to have breast augmentation surgery, there are several decisions yet to be made. There are considerations of size and implant type, as well as implant placement. As The Doctors discuss today with Joan Rivers and her daughter Melissa Rivers, your physician will help guide you towards choosing the best options to reach your desired result.

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Size is one of the first decisions to be made. Many women with a small frame choose implants that are of course larger than their current size, but are still not too large for their frame. Among women who are very fit, large breasts can be an impediment and may also make their fit bodies look less trim. Plastic surgeon Dr. Gregory Buford, who performs breast augmentation in Denver, says that he takes size into very careful consideration. "I take lots of measurements. Not only do I look at the standard measurements that everyone takes, but I also really look at the breast and examine the overall appearance." He says that in this manner, he's able to deliver the best result to suit the patient's needs.

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There is also the consideration of type of implant, which will affect both the price and the end result. Dr. Drew Ordon, Doctors co-host discusses four types of implants today, explaining the differences between them all:
  1. Saline - This is the most basic form of implant and costs the least. Saline is basically salt water and one advantage is we know that it's safe. Dr. Ordon says they can leak though, and the implants will lose their volume.

  2. Silicone - The silicone gel breast implant is the most commonly used. We know that silicone is safe as well and in the opinions of many, it feels the most natural. Silicone implants also tend to be a bit more costly than saline.

  3. Cohesive Gel - Often known as the Gummy Bear implant, this new prosthesis is still undergoing FDA testing. It is a type of silicone but is thicker than the traditional silicone implant. It carries a still higher cost, outpricing the silicone by more than $1000 on average.

  4. Fat Transfer - Fat removed via liposuction is processed and then injected into the breast for a natural, implant free option. Dr. Ordon says that this is best reserved for patients needing a small implant, or for the repair of small defects. Because of the combination of procedures, fat transfer costs the most out of all four options.

Patients also must decide if they prefer having the breast implant placed above or below the chest muscle. If the implant is placed above the muscle, there is more of a chance that it will be noticed and rippling is more obvious. On the other hand, recovery is often quicker and less painful because there is less muscle involvement. Placing the implant completely under the muscle lowers the risk of capsular contracture and is better camouflaged.

Dr. Buford says that in the operating room, there are also some minor changes he often makes to enhance the final result. "It isn't only a matter of the numbers," he describes. "The numbers can lie. You can have a distance from the base of the neck to the nipple position, and have the two exactly the same. However, the measurement from the nipple down to the fold may be much longer on one side so you have to take that into account. These small changes make a huge difference in the results."

Talk closely with your doctor about your desired results to get the most out of your surgery. Ask questions and research the options so the two of you can decide on the best plan for your needs. "There are a lot of little subtleties that make all the difference in the world," says Dr. Buford.