Breast Implants: Some Common Questions
By Roger Greenberg, MD
Published on August 01, 2006
Frequently Asked Questions about Breast Implants
The following are a few of the most common questions my patients ask:
1. How much do breast implants weigh?
To determine the exact weight of your own implants, you need to know the cubic centimeter volume (cc) of the fluid within your implant: One ounce = 30cc. (Thus, if an implant has a volume of 480cc, it will weigh approximately 1 pound).
2. Will I be able to breastfeed if I have implants?
Yes, you can; it is important to remember that the implants are placed under the breast or under the pectoral muscle, so there should be no interruption with glandular function during pregnancy. A study released by the Institute of Medicine on breast implant safety found no reasons that women with breast implants should not breast feed their children.
3. If my saline-filled implant deflates, what effect will it have on my health?
The saline (salt water) solution that is used for saline-filled implants is very much like the normal saline fluid that makes up 70% of the human body. If the breast implant should leak and release saline into your tissues, your body will be able to safely absorb this fluid, and any excess saline will be naturally excreted through your kidneys. The remaining breast implant empty sack will develop folds and wrinkles and cause an obvious asymmetry of the breasts. While this is not an emergency situation, the surrounding scar tissue will contract around the implant, causing a decrease in the size of the soft tissue pocket. Hence, it is advisable for the defective implant to be removed and replaced within a few weeks of discovery.
4. What are the most common risks and complications from having breast augmentation surgery?
The most common risks are: infection, hematoma (bleeding around the area of dissection), deflation, malposition of the implant, and firmness of the breasts (capsular contracture).
5. Does it make any difference whether the breast implant is placed on top of the pectoral muscle or under the pectoral muscle?
The exact position of the implant will vary according to the individual patient's tissues and the surgeon's preferences. However, there is evidence that shows that the incidence of postoperative capsular contractures (over-firmness of the breasts) is lower when the implant is placed under the muscle. Also, the muscle may provide more protection from accidental bumps--especially in thin, slender patients.
6. Do certain sports activities affect my implants?
Generally, you should be able to enjoy most sports activities with no negative effects on your breast implants. However, serious weight lifting (pectoral muscle exercises) could result in displacement of the implants or increased firming of your breasts. Any sports activities that may cause a blow to your chest (i.e. kickboxing or basketball) should be avoided.
7. Are tanning booths dangerous for patients with breast implants?
While the saline in the implant may take longer to cool than the rest of your body, this activity should pose no direct risk to the implant.
Finally, it should be noted that while plastic surgery can often have dramatic benefits, it is also important to have realistic expectations to achieve a happy result.
Dr. Greenberg is a board certified Plastic Surgeon and former President of the California Society of Plastic Surgeons. If you wish to learn more about him, or about breast augmentation view "before and after" photos, or please visit Dr. Greenberg's website.