Breast augmentation, also known as augmentation mammaplasty, is the surgical procedure to change the size, shape, and texture of a woman’s mammary glands. Once the almost-exclusive domain to starlets and models, these surgeries have quickly become much more commonplace. With continued advances in the technology and products used, it has become much easier and safer to obtain the body image that one wants to achieve.
These types of procedures are also playing an important part in the lives of women who are dealing with the challenge of cancer. Reconstructive procedures that follow a mastectomy not only repair the physical damage caused by the disease, but also perform an important, psychological function by letting the patient stand before the world and proclaim: “I’m a survivor, and I feel just as attractive as ever before.”
Tools Of The Trade
Modern breast augmentation utilizes two different types of implants: saline and silicone. Each product has its benefits and downfalls that both the patient and the doctor must consider when deciding to undergo this type of operation.
Developed in France, the saline implant was first used as a prosthetic device in 1964. Modern implants use a vulcanized shell made of silicone elastomer, and they are filled with a solution of saltwater and sodium chloride. The goal was to have a less invasive technique where an empty implant would be placed, and then the surgeon would fill it with the saline solution. Rates of deflation and leakage made the saline implant the second choice for enhancement surgery. However, FDA restrictions on the importation of silicone-filled implants in the 1990s have, once again, made the saline-filled products the primary option.
The contemporary silicone implant device was developed in the United States in 1961. It was used in the first enhancement mammaplasty in 1962. Since that initial application, the silicone implant has gone through five generations of improvement and enhancement. Each generational model had functional changes that were designed to increase the aesthetic qualities and functionality of the implant.
Each generation had unique design changes that mirrored advances in medical technology. The first generation implants utilized thinner materials for the shell. Subsequently, the second generation models added a polyurethane coating to reduce the chance of inflammation. The double-lumen of the “Becker Expandable” model was the third generational change. This became the primary application for reconstructive procedures.
An important feature of the fourth generation of implants was the creation of more anatomically correct models that would more accurately mirror the body structures of the women who would receive them. This made the results of the procedure more aesthetically “natural” and desirable. The fifth generation of devices introduced the application of a semi-solid gel that has greatly reduced the incidences of shell rupture and improved safety for the patient.
Regardless what type of breast augmentation device or procedure is selected, it is important to remember that these implants are not designed to be permanent. Future surgeries may be needed to replace or change the products if there are physical or mechanical issues that have to be corrected. Additionally, patients should have MRI scans, as directed by the treating surgeon, to ensure that there are no issues with leakage or ruptures.
The positive, psychological impact of breast augmentation cannot be overstated. Having a positive self-image of one’s body creates a feeling of well-being that transcends to all parts of daily living. That kind of emotional enhancement has an intrinsic value that stretches far beyond the financial cost of the procedure.