breast-implantsWhen you think of breast implants, there is a certain perception about the kind of people who would opt for them – rich, vain page 3 types for whom the surgery is just another thing they could try in order to enhance their sex appeal.  But this is far from the truth. Read on to change some of the perceptions you might have about the procedure.

Breast implants – why would one need them?

They are great confidence boosters:

Overall, most women get implants to feel more comfortable with the way they look. Some may feel their breasts are too small and hence, opt for implants. However, women also look to firm up sagging breasts, a common problem that occurs with age or to correct their breast shape that may have changed after giving birth.

They are required for correction of deformities or certain medical reasons:

Congenital breast deformities like tubular breasts manifesting in the form of enlarged puffy areola, unusually wide spacing between the breasts and sometimes under-developed breasts often require breast implants.

 Implants are also useful for women who undergo mastectomy, where one or both breasts are surgically removed due to cancer.

Transsexual and transgender women also undergo this surgery as part of gender transition surgery.

So, what exactly are breast implants?

Implants are made of soft silicone and have an elastomer silicone shell. The shells are either filled with silicone gel (silicone implants) or sterile saline solution (saline implants).

Saline implants are filled with the solution after being inserted into the breast so the incision required is smaller – therefore, the scarring is lesser. However, silicone implants are filled with a semi solid gel cutting the risk of implant rupturing.

Implants also come in different shapes and sizes – the two main shapes are round and teardrop (more natural looking and therefore, more expensive).  While the former is generally used in breast enlargement the latter is used in reconstruction surgeries.

Do implants appear ‘fake’?

 No – but that depends on many factors. Teardrop implants are obviously closer to looking natural but don’t suit every woman. Silicone implants are more natural than saline implants as they are less likely to wrinkle or age and some have textured surfaces to give them a more natural look. Needless to say, your surgeon’s skills are of utmost importance so make sure you research well before zeroing in on one.

But the million dollar question is – how comfortable are you with the implants? Obviously, if you increasing your cup size from A to DD (which is doable) won’t seem as smooth or natural as it might if you increase it from A to C. You also need to think how proportionate your body would look post the change.

The best thing to do is consult with your surgeon as to what size or shape will suit you best because round implants can look just as natural as teardrop provided they are done in the right manner.

Is there an expiry date for implants?

There are very few clinics that come up with a lifetime guarantee on implants and the quality differs with manufacturers. Having said that most implants come with a lifespan of up to 15 years.

Duration and cost

Breast augmentation can cost up to Rs. 1.2 to 2 lakhs but may vary. However, be wary of doctors that charge too less.

The surgery can take anywhere from 30-45 minutes depending upon the type of your surgery.

Pre- and post- surgery instructions

It’s necessary to adopt a healthy diet before the surgery because you’ll need a healthy body in order to heal quickly post op. Most doctors help the patient with the kind of diet and lifestyle they need. If you are already on a special diet, share the details with your doctor. If you are a smoker, quit.

As for the precautions post op, the surgeon will advise the patient on how to take care. Generally, they prescribe antibiotics in case of infections and suggest breast massage techniques to avoid capsular contracture. It is also recommended that one avoids wearing underwire bras as the wire can affect the position of the implant. Patients are also advised not to shower or raise their arms immediately after the surgery.

Physically intensive tasks should be avoided immediately after the surgery.  Eating well and drinking adequate fluids is a must as is avoiding alcohol and cigarettes.

Follow up examinations post-op must be done to ensure there are no complications or undue developments.

What to expect post-op

Pain, swelling, bruising, stiffness in chest muscles and changes in nipple sensitivity are common. However, they usually last for a few days or weeks. Ice packs can help cut the pain and swelling. But if you experience severe pain, high fever or anything else that’s very uncomfortable, consult your doctor immediately.

Risks involved

The implants can get ruptured due to a manufacturing defect, surgical damage, mammograms, accident or weakening over time. If the implant breaks, leaks or is just rejected by the body, the patient will need another surgery to remove it.

Implants may affect your ability to breastfeed. So, plan your family accordingly.

Tumour detection may be tougher when you have implants. Thus, a periodical mammogram by a reliable technician is a must.

Other risks involve toxic shock syndrome, implants breaking through the skin or skin dying – these are rare but do occur.

What you need to ask your surgeon

You can ask your doctor to share before and after pictures of his previous operations. Ask him or her for written information (pamphlets) on the risks of breast implants and study it thoroughly a week before your surgery in case you may have some unanswered questions.

You can also ask to speak to his or her patients to know how well satisfied they are with the operation.

Finally…

Ask yourself why you want to opt for breast augmentation first. If you are satisfied with the reason, go ahead and arm yourself with all the information you can get your hands on. And remember that the surgery may not always produce the result you had expected – it may be different. You may look different than what you had pictured even after a successful surgery.

Most importantly, breast implants aren’t always about flaunting sexuality – it’s also about being confident in your own body and about feeling beautiful, balanced and confident. So don’t let anyone think you are vain to want it. What matters more is how you see yourself.