Breast Implant FAQs


What are the different types of incision?

There are three types of incisions currently in use for breast implants: The periareolar incision, the inframammary fold incision and the transaxillary incision. Each of these incision types is described below.

Periareolar Incision

The periareolar incision is a small incision made below the nipple, where the areola (the darker colored skin surrounding the nipple) meets the skin of the breast. Because the incision is in such close proximity to the implant site, the surgeon can place and adjust the implant with some precision. Periareolar incisions are appropriate for either subglandular or submuscular implant placement.

The periareolar incision does leave some scarring at the site, but because the incision is made along the line where the color and texture of the skin changes, scarring is usually not very noticeable.

Inframammary Fold Incision

The inframammary fold incision is an incision made along the lower crease of the breast. Like the periareolar incision, the proximity of the incision to the breast implant site allows the surgeon to adjust the implant more precisely than with procedures using incisions at remote sites. Inframammary fold incisions are appropriate for either subglandular or submuscular implant placement.

The inframammary fold incision does leave a scar at the incision site, the extent of which depends on the size of the incision, the patient's skin type, and the patient's unique healing abilities. However, the scar is mostly obscured from view as it is located below the breast, along the natural fold. One possible complication with inframammary fold incisions arises when the breast size is increased considerably, requiring the surgeon to create a new inframammary fold along with the implant. In some rare cases, the surgeon can misjudge the placement of this fold, causing the nipple to be off center on the new breast. This risk can be minimized by selecting a reputable cosmetic surgeon with extensive experience with breast enhancement procedures.

Transaxillary Incision

The transaxillary incision is an incision made in the underarm area, through which the surgeon works to insert the breast implants. This surgery may be performed directly, as in the periareolar and inframammary fold incision procedures; or it may be performed using an endoscope, which is a thin, flexible scope manipulated by the surgeon during the procedure. Transaxillary incisions do not usually allow the surgeon to manipulate the implants with the precision allowed by incisions closer to the site. Transaxillary incisions are appropriate for either subglandular or submuscular implant placement.

The transaxillary incision leaves a small, usually very slight scar under the arm. Most patients find that the scar is virtually unnoticeable. Because the incision is fairly remote from the site of the implant, a transaxillary incision can not be reused for additional procedures as the periareolar and inframammary fold incisions can.

What are the options for breast implants placement?

There are two primary types of placement available for breast augmentation procedures: Subglandular and subpectoral. Each type of placement has benefits and potential drawbacks, and it is important that each patient understand these factors before making a decision about implant placement.

Subglandular Breast Implant Placement

Implants placed subglandularly are located above the muscles of the chest and underneath the breast tissue. Subglandular placement is the least invasive type of implant placement, and subsequently tends to result in a shorter and less painful recovery. Drawbacks to subglandular placement are that they are more likely to interfere with mammograms, and in cases in which there is insufficient breast tissue to obscure the implant, the outlines of the implant can sometimes be palpable, such that the implant can be felt under the skin, and in some cases, even be visible.

Subpectoral Implant Placement

Subpectoral implant placement refers to implants that are positioned beneath the pectoral muscle at the top of the implant, but above the related chest muscles at the lower part of the implant. Subpectoral implant placements involve a more extensive procedure and longer recovery times than subglandular implants, but it is also less likely to result in visible or palpable implants or rippling, and is less likely to interfere with mammography. Also, it is less likely to result in palpable implants or rippling as is a risk with implants close to the skin. It is also less likely to interfere with mammography than subglandular implants.

What is the ideal breast implant shape?

Implants come in both round and teardrop shapes.

Some claim that round implants result in an artificial looking breast, and that the teardrop shaped implants look more natural. Others argue that, unless the implants are implausibly large, round implants look perfectly natural, and teardrop shapes create an elongated appearance.

When making a decision about the shape of implant that is right for you, the best course of action would be to research the available options, perhaps comparing pictures of breast enhancements using the different shaped implants, and discuss the options and your own preferences with your surgeon.

Will my breast implants include a warranty against rupture?

Yes, both major implant manufacturers provide a lifetime warranty.

How long will my breast implants last?

Your implants will have a lifetime warranty, but there is always some possibility that they will have to be replaced at some point. In the unlikely event that the implants do fail, the implants will be replaced by the manufacturer.

Other questions?

If you need help exploring breast implant surgery, please feel free to email a surgeon or call for a consultation today. Call 616.454.1256 if you're in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area, or toll free at 800.968.7474.

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