It used to be that when you were thinking about breast implants, your choices were pretty simple: do you want silicone or saline, round or teardrop? You would work with your surgeon to determine what the best possible decision might be—one that works for your results and one that works for your body. But these days, breast implants sure do seem to be getting complicated.
Or, at least, it can feel that way for patients. There are several reasons why that feeling exists and why it might be growing. Do breast implants keep getting more complicated? Do a certain extent, yes; but not because surgeons have any kind of desire to overcomplicate things.
In fact, the reasons that breast implants keep getting more complicated have more to do with the patients themselves.
Patients Are More Knowledgeable than Ever
The process of researching any plastic surgery procedure, breast augmentation included, usually starts with a series of internet searches. Through the magic of the world wide web, patients are able to find a wealth of information—information that just two decades ago would have been locked up in dense tomes and impenetrable textbooks.
This means that patients are usually more knowledgeable than ever before. Even when the consultation begins, patients are coming into that conversation having done significant research. This means that a patient might already be quite well versed with saline and silicone implants before meeting with a surgeon.
To be sure, this internet research is not always authoritative, but it does serve as a kind of baseline knowledge that the plastic surgeon can then use to gain more depth. But it allows both manufacturers of surgeons to be a little more sophisticated in their marketing.
In other words, because patients have a better understanding of the basics of procedures, manufacturers and surgeons are able to create new demand by emphasizing the nuanced differences between products. Patients want the best breast implant out there, even if it’s only better in a marginal (but possibly important) way.
Patient Demand Is Changing
The other side of this coin has to do with what patients want. Let’s put it this way: demand for plastic surgery is generally growing, and breast augmentation is no exception. Modern plastic surgery procedures tend to emphasize results that compliment each patient’s individual, unique features. You don’t just want a good breast augmentation, you want a breast augmentation that’s good just for you.
That’s not an unreasonable expectation for a patient. But it does require that the devices involved with a breast augmentation—the breast implant—include a little more variation. This means that not only do patients have to consider saline or silicone, they also have to consider Ideal brand implants vs. Natrelle brand implants.
Part of this should be expected. Plastic surgeons are going to innovate, after all—as are medical device companies. During your consultation with your surgeon, you should discuss the positives and drawbacks of, for example, so-called “gummy bear” implants compared to silicone implants.
At the same time, the innovation driving the plastic surgery market will continue to give patients more options. We’ve already seen that in a big way with fat graft options becoming available for breast augmentation. Essentially, rather than using a saline or silicone based breast implant, surgeons use the patient’s own fat to increase the size of the breast.
It’s a little more complicated than it sounds, of course. There is usually liposuction of some kind involved, and the fat is usually then purified. Additionally, it might take many injections in order to get the results you want (in other words, it’s not just one injection of fat). But a fat graft breast augmentation is a great way to get very natural looking results that also happen to be permanent.
Talking with Your Surgeon Is an Important Step
All of these options available to patients should emphasize something: it’s more important than ever that you talk frankly with your plastic surgeon about what you want and about what’s possible.
It’s not uncommon for a knowledgeable patient to develop a sense of certainty based on suspect information. When it comes to the results you want to achieve—when it comes to getting the best results for you, the best place to get your information is from your plastic surgeon.
That’s certainly true with breast augmentation procedures. So, yes, it does seem to be that breast implants keep getting more complicated. But the source of answers and information is always the same: a highly qualified plastic surgeon.