Breast Implants: The Buzzwords You Need to Know
Women who are researching breast implants soon realize that size is only one of the decisions involved in getting breast augmentation. At my Albany practice, I help patients navigate their choices during the consultation by explaining the differences between various concepts, such as size and profile.
That’s why I want to devote this blog post to explaining some of the jargon associated with breast implants in a way that I think is easily understood. Having a good grasp of the choices involved in breast enhancement enables patients to feel confident when making these decisions.
What does “cc” mean? A cc is a cubic centimeter. Most patients use bra cup designations to describe their desired breast sizes — they want to go from a B-cup to a D-cup, for example. But anyone who tries on bras knows that cup sizes often vary significantly from one brand to the next. Using cc offers a standardized measurement for implants, regardless of the implant type or manufacturer.
It may initially be a bit confusing to see implants referred to as round or shaped. Round is a shape, of course. Shaped implants are also sometimes called anatomically shaped, because they resemble the natural slope of a breast, with the lower two-thirds of the implant fuller than the upper third. Patients who want more cleavage and upper pole fullness are usually better off choosing round implants.
With the development of newer implant technology, the choice of implant material is no longer as simple as saline vs. silicone. The various consistencies of silicone implants provide patients with additional choices:
- Saline: Implants filled with a saltwater solution are less popular now because most patients believe they don’t look or feel as natural as silicone implants. The benefit of saline implants is that patients know immediately if they’re leaking because the implant deflates. The liquid solution is naturally absorbed by the body.
- Silicone: Traditional silicone gel implants are slightly softer than the new cohesive gel or highly cohesive gel implants. The gel has a thinner consistency, which some patients prefer to the form-stable cohesiveness of the newer generation of implants.
- Cohesive silicone gel: Sometimes called “gummy bear” implants, the cohesive silicone gel implants maintain their shape, even in the unlikely event of a rupture. Both types of silicone gel implants are best for women with little existing breast tissue because there is little risk of visible rippling or wrinkling, which can be a drawback with saline implants.
It’s safe to say this is the most difficult choice for patients to understand. Implants come in various profiles: low, moderate, moderate plus, and high are common, but there are others. An implant’s profile refers to how much it projects from the patient’s chest wall. But choosing the profile also involves considering the patient’s anatomy and the final result she wants. That’s why I take a 3-dimensional approach to recommending the size and projection of implants. In doing so, I can best match the implant profile with the patient’s body frame.
The exterior of textured implants feels a bit like soft sandpaper with a pebbly surface. This helps them attach to the capsule in which the surgeon places the breast implant, limiting their movement. Smooth implants move more freely within the capsule. Typically, shaped implants are textured because it’s important that they don’t rotate at all within the capsule. If they do, it can give the breasts an asymmetrical appearance. Smooth, round implants, on the other hand, can move around because there is no “up” or “down” to them.
This information can sometimes seem overwhelming, especially if you’re just getting started researching breast augmentation. That’s why I take the time during consultations to carefully and thoroughly explain these terms in ways my patients can easily understand.