Second Time Around: Why Women Replace Breast Implants
by cosmetic blogger Emmy Owens
Few women decide to get breast implants on a whim. Most patients make the choice only after considering it for several months, perhaps even years. They complete their due diligence, research the procedure, and select a surgeon after one or more consultations.
And, studies show, the vast majority of women are satisfied with the results. One study published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® found that 98% of patients reported being satisfied after getting breast implants.
Still, at some point women either desire or need breast implant revision surgery. Even though satisfaction is high, about one-third of women who undergo revision surgery do so not because of a complication or problem, but just because they want to change the size of their implants. In most cases, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), women who change implant size switch to larger implants. It’s likely that more breast augmentation revision surgeries are performed to modify size than for any other reason.
No matter how much research a women does prior to her breast augmentation, it’s ultimately difficult for a prospective patient to know what size implant will give her the results she wants. Many women are leery of going too big and tend to be conservative when making the final choice, only to find out later that they wish they had chosen a slightly larger size.
Size isn’t the only reason women decide to replace implants. Recent research advances have created many more choices in shape and filler material, including “gummy bear” implants that use highly cohesive silicone gel, which most people believe looks and feels more natural. Statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons® show that silicone implants are now the choice in about 75% of breast augmentation operations, and that number appears to be increasing.
Women who initially chose saline implants, particularly in the period before 2006 when silicone implants weren’t approved by the FDA, are now heading back to the O.R. to get silicone (click here for a comparison between saline and silicone implants).
Courtney, a healthcare worker who had breast augmentation revision performed by Tampa-area specialist Dr. Jeremy Benedetti, says she initially got saline breast implants in 2001. She tells her story on Dr. Benedetti’s website: “Once I got into the medical field, I knew the difference between saline and silicone gel implants. And I soon realized I wanted to move to gel.”
Because implant revision surgery can be more complicated than the initial breast augmentation, it’s critical to find a surgeon with experience performing the procedure. Scar tissue that develops around the implants requires advanced surgical techniques.
Although rare, complications with breast implants can also lead women to either replace or remove them. Those complications include malposition, rupture, capsular contracture (an over-hardening of scar tissue), implant rippling, or “bottoming out” (when the implant migrates lower than its original position).
Breasts with implants, of course, are also just as vulnerable to gravity as those without. Women with very large implants often have the same complaints as women with very large natural breasts. These include back and neck pain, along with breasts that become saggy earlier than they would have without implants. That’s something to think about for women considering exchanging smaller implants for larger ones.
The ASAPS cautions that when choosing implant size, patients should be aware that large implants, compared with smaller sizes, have a greater potential for certain types of complications, both in the short term and long term. This can make finding a happy medium a challenge. The best way to find the right path for a particular patient is to seek out a board-certified plastic surgeon who is highly experienced with breast augmentation revision.