Expert Doctor

Variations in Breast Augmentation

Though breast augmentations have become increasingly common in modern society, the available variations in breast augmentation still remain a bit of a mystery to many prospective patients. The confusion lies in the large assortment of implant types and techniques available to patients. There are many different types of implants but the most commonly used ones are saline and silicone implants. These implants are inserted through one of four basic incisions:

· Inframammary - under the breast

· Peri-Areolar - through the areola 

· Transaxillary - through the armpit

·  Transumbilical - through the belly button  



The best type of incision for each patient varies on a case-by-case basis. For example, transumbilical implants have decreased in popularity recently as it is impossible to place silicone implants through the belly button.

The preferred method of insertion will depend on the surgeon and the type of implant being used. A shaped implant is best placed through an incision under the breast and it is up to the surgeon to determine if that method will give a patient the desired results. In addition to the different materials and incisions, implants can be different shapes such as natural, a teardrop shape, or a round shape. Implants can also be different widths and different textures such as smooth-walled or textured.

Finally, there are four different profiles that a patient can choose from. A profile determines how far an implant projects from the chest. The different profile choices include low, medium, high and ultra-high. With so many variables, it is extremely important that a patient knows what she wants and that she also finds a doctor who is capable of helping her achieve her goals.



Implant malposition happens when the implant moves to an incorrect spot.  This is also the most common risk in breast augmentation procedures.

Another risk patients should consider before getting breast implants is capsular contracture.  Capsular contracture occurs when scar tissue solidifies around the implant and causes the implant to become hard and painful. This is likely due to a low-grade infection from bacteria that is transferred onto the implant when it is placed through the skin. One way doctors can lessen the risk of capsular contracture is by minimizing the overall contact of the implant with the skin of the patient. Doctors can use a Keller Funnel, a sort of pastry bag for implants, to reduce the amount of contact with the skin as well as reduce trauma to the implant upon insertion.

One other risk with breast augmentation also falls under the total cost of the procedure. The most important thing for patients to remember is that there is no such thing as a “discount” or a “bargain” when it comes to plastic surgery. With a procedure as popular as breast augmentation, there are many less-than-qualified doctors who are all too eager to offer what seems like a great deal for the patient. The patient goes into the surgery thinking she is getting a great price for quality work. Unfortunately, the patient will often find herself with a problem caused by using a surgeon who is not board-certified to perform a breast augmentation. Although there are risks with every surgical procedure, taking the time to carefully select a board-certified surgeon who is skilled at performing breast augmentations is the best way for patients to avoid a second or third visit to the operating room.



The overall cost of a breast augmentation varies according to the doctor performing the surgery as well as the region of the country where the procedure is being performed. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the average cost for saline implants is $3441 and the average cost for silicone implants is $3848. Unless the patient is having a breast reconstruction procedure following a mastectomy, insurance generally does not pay for breast surgeries as the procedure is considered almost exclusively a cosmetic surgery by insurance companies.



Breast augmentation is a great option for patients wishing to see an enhancement in their breasts. However, it is very important for them to know all of the facts before proceeding with any of their surgical options. A lack of information and insufficient research can be extremely dangerous for anyone when they are trying to make a major decision about their health. Before having a procedure, patients should be familiar with every aspect of the surgery and this includes the credentials of the doctor, making sure that the facility has proper accreditation, and their implant choices. Patients also need to have a clear line of communication regarding what they expect the results to be after the procedure. Researching these important items will help maximize the likelihood of a successful, and happy, surgical outcome.


Written by Cosmetic Town Editorial Team - MA

Based on an exclusive interview with Robert Kearney, MD in San Diego, CA