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Adjustable Breast Implants?

by Marisa Amorasak

Breast implants remained the most popular plastic surgery procedure in 2010, according to the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Due to their popularity, it only makes sense that there are a variety of advanced technology options for women who choose to get breast implants. One of the latest developments in the breast augmentation arena are adjustable breast implants. It takes one of the most difficult decisions regarding breast implants and simplifies it so that you and your plastic surgeon can decide on the size that best suits you. Adjustable breast implants are like regular implants, except their size can be altered by a doctor for up to six months after the initial surgery. They're ideal for women who know that they want breast implants, but don't want to commit to a specific size just yet.

Some plastic surgeons have argued that adjustable breast implants are superior to traditional implants. Traditional implants, they claim, are just too permanent: "If patients are unhappy with their size, there are no options other than redoing the surgery," said Dr. David Watts, director of the Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery Institute in Philadelphia. "With adjustable breast implants, you can adjust the implant size postoperatively, up to 20 percent of its original size."

Types of Adjustable Breast Implants

There are two main types of adjustable implants: saline shell and silicone shell. The saline shell is a bit firmer than the silicone shell. Both are filled with a saline solution. Although silicone is a more popular type of implant material, it can't be used with adjustable implants because they have to be pre-filled in a sac. Saline is generally considered the safer of the two materials, because if it leaks into the body it can be naturally absorbed. The best way to decide which type of adjustable implant is right for you is to speak with your surgeon one-on-one in an in-office consultation.

Adjusting the Implants

The adjustable implant is inserted into the chest during surgery, just as in a traditional breast augmentation. The only difference is that your surgeon will leave a small tube attachment in each breast. The tube is accessible by the surgeon in a simple in-office procedure where he or she injects saline into it. The initial size of the inserted implants should be on the smaller end, as saline can only be inserted and not removed. The implants can be adjusted for up to six months after the surgery. Once your desired breast size is reached, your surgeon will remove the fill tube in another simple in-office procedure. The implant valve seals shut as soon as the fill tube is removed, forever securing the saline inside.

The Downsides of Adjustable Breast Implants

Not all doctors are a fan of the new adjustable breast implants. One of the main caveats lies behind the word “adjustable.” Although the implants can be made larger through injection, major changes simply aren't possible. If a patient is looking to increase by more than about 250 cc, they risk distorting the rounded shape of the implant. A new outer shell would be necessary.

"Although the concept of adjusting up or down by a cup size sounds great, it isn't practical," said Dr. Ronald Friedman, director of West Plano Plastic Surgery Center in Plano, Texas.

"Implants are designed for a specific, narrow range of filling volumes," said Friedman. "If implant volume is reduced to below the manufacturer's recommended volume, the risk of deflation increases. If implant volume is significantly increased, the implant will become unnaturally firm."

Scheduling Your Adjustable Breast Implant Surgery

If adjustable breast implants appeal to your desires in your breast augmentation, contact us today! We can set you up with a private consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon in your area.



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