Blog

Your Breast Surgery Options

We all have areas of our body we wish we could improve, whether it’s our nose, lips, thighs, or even our hands and feet. However, while we see a lot of variation in which facial features women want to alter via plastic surgery, there’s one body part that seems to generate almost universal dissatisfaction: The breasts. According to a survey published in the International Journal of Sexual Health, an astonishing 70 percent of women are not happy with their breasts.

As the survey, which was titled The Barbie Mystique: Satisfaction with Breast Size and Shape across the Lifespan, revealed, this dissatisfaction crosses all age groups, backgrounds, and economic strata. Researchers looked at a pool of 52,227 people between the ages of 18 to 65 and found that concerns over breast size and/or shape were widespread among women. Conversely, over half of all of the men surveyed reported being happy with their partner’s bust. We can therefore surmise that many women worry about their shape due to internal (rather than external) pressures. Women are usually unhappy with their breasts for their own individual reasons, not because they’ve received critical feedback from others.

Digging deeper, the survey found that young women—especially slim young women—most often report being unsatisfied with the size of their breasts. These women typically want rounder, fuller breasts; while large implants have decidedly gone out of fashion, there’s still a distinct desire to obtain the perfect hourglass figure. Conversely, older and heavier women often wish they could reduce the size of their breasts. Moreover, even those women in the aforementioned category who are content with having big breasts wish they could reduce their breasts’ level of droopiness. Finally, post-menopausal women of all different body types tend to be concerned about breast sagging, and their concerns are not unfounded—as estrogen levels drop, breast volume usually decreases, making the breasts appear flatter. Skin laxity also increases all over the body as a result of declining collagen levels.

Regardless of why women are dissatisfied with their breasts, there is no questioning the fact that their insecurities have a profound impact on their lives. Women who are unhappy with their breasts report experiencing a lower overall level of body satisfaction and this affects what they’re willing to wear. They often avoid wearing tight clothing or plunging necklines, and they may even go so far as to give up swimming because they don’t want to be seen in a bathing suit or bikini. Furthermore, these women tend to face challenges when it comes to sexual expression. They are less willing to undress in front of their partner, even if they have a supportive partner. They may even go so far as to conceal their breasts during sex. Ultimately, one thing is clear: Even if no one else notices the breast size or shape issues that are troubling these women, their unhappiness due to their breasts is very real—and it has the potential to spill over into many other areas of their lives.

If you’re one of the many women suffering from breast-related insecurities, we can help. At the New Orleans Center for Aesthetics and Plastic Surgery, we offer a number of different breast surgeries designed to meet various cosmetic objectives. To learn more about your options, review the breast surgery information below:

Breast Augmentation

While we don’t hear a lot about breast augmentation surgery in the media anymore, it remains the most popular cosmetic surgery procedure in America. Why? Because breast augmentation is useful for much more than just obtaining additional breast volume. While volume enhancement is, of course, one of its primary purposes, breast augmentation can also be used to improve breast shape, correct unevenness in the breasts, and give breasts with mild sagging a bit of a “lift.” Breast augmentation surgery is also the perfect way to quickly restore the breasts to their youthful size and shape if they have been affected by the signs of aging or motherhood. (Many women lose fullness in their breasts after breastfeeding their children and/or after going through menopause.)

Breast implants can replace lost breast volume, or add new volume, relatively quickly and easily. Though breast augmentation is an invasive surgery, it’s a very well-understood operation and recovery from it usually only takes about two weeks. Note that recovery time will vary, however, based on which implant placement you choose. Placing implants “under the muscle” may add another 5 to 7 days of healing time.

When you make the decision to have breast augmentation surgery, you’ll be presented with a few different options. First and foremost, you’ll need to choose between saline and silicone gel implants (if you are over 22, that is—only saline implants have been approved for use in those 21 and younger). Most plastic surgeons recommend using silicone gel implants because they are filled with a viscous form of silicone that closely resembles natural breast tissue in texture and consistency. Gel implants are also more durable than saline implants, so they are less prone to rupturing. Finally, they tend to stay in place firmly and do not usually cause the skin to “ripple.” With all of that being said, however, some women still feel more comfortable with saline implants because it’s easier to tell when they leak. Likewise, saline can be completely and safely reabsorbed by the body, so saline leaks are essentially harmless. (Silicone gel leaks are not generally dangerous either because silicone is non-toxic, but there’s a slight possibility of irritation and infection around the site of a silicone gel leak.) Saline implants can also be inserted via a much smaller incision, lowering the risk of scarring, and their size can be adjusted even after they are placed.

When you come in for a breast augmentation consultation, we’ll help you make an informed decision between these two different types of breast implant. In the hands of a skilled plastic surgeon, both saline and silicone gel implants can be made to look natural, so we encourage patients to fully explore their options.

Finally, before you have breast augmentation surgery, you’ll need to decide whether you want your implants placed over or under your pectoral muscles. Most plastic surgeons prefer under the muscle placement (despite the slightly longer recovery time it necessitates) because this placement effectively hides the top half of the implant below the patient’s muscle tissue. As a result, the breasts retain a natural-looking slope after augmentation, rather than looking overly round.

In some cases, under the muscle implant placement is not possible. Women with small chest cavities who want to have large implants placed, for example, usually do not have enough muscle tissue to cover the top of their implants. They may require an alternative option, such as shaped “gummy bear” silicone implants that have been designed to mimic the gradual slope of natural breasts.

Breast Revision Surgery

With all of the different choices women face when having breast augmentation, it’s little wonder that breast revision surgery is one of the more popular forms of corrective plastic surgery. Many women aren’t sure how to choose the correct size of implant to meet their needs, so size-related concerns prompt the bulk of breast revision surgeries. Women sometimes ask to be made a certain cup size, for instance, then they discover that a “D cup” is a lot smaller than they envisioned. (Remember: cup sizes are not standardized, so we strongly recommend obtaining breast implant sample sizes to try on. Your surgeon can use these samples to select the right implant volume in CCs to create the bust size you desire.) Other women like how their larger breasts look, but discover that carrying them around all day—or worse, trying to exercise with them—is more of a chore than they expected. (To avoid this pitfall, we suggest wearing your chosen sample size for a whole day before deciding on an implant size.) These women have no choice but to head back to their local plastic surgeon’s office and ask for revision surgery, whereupon their old implants are removed and new implants are inserted.

Revision surgery can become desirable many years after a woman has had implants placed, too. Some patients decide to have their older saline implants “upgraded” to more natural-looking silicone gel models, while others eventually experience an implant rupture that makes revision necessary. Finally, some women choose to have their implants removed altogether due to lifestyle changes. Either they have developed a penchant for athletics that makes having implants impractical, or their tastes have simply changed with age. Fortunately, it’s possible to remove implants altogether and restore the breasts to a pleasing shape, usually with the aid of the following procedure:

Breast Lift Surgery

Breast lift surgery is used to improve the shape of the breasts without adding extra volume to them. During this procedure, loose skin that has formed due to aging, breastfeeding, or breast implant removal is surgically removed. After the operation, there will be only enough skin present to cover the patient’s natural breast tissue, resulting in firmer, perkier breasts. Additionally, the nipples are often repositioned during breast lift surgery so that they face upwards and sit higher on the breasts. All of these alterations produce rounder, perter, and younger-looking breasts.

Note that breast lift surgery is often combined with breast augmentation surgery when a patient over 50 wishes to have her breasts augmented. Combining both of these procedures into one operation saves the patient time and money, as well as reducing her overall risk of scarring and other complications.

Breast Reduction Surgery

As very large-breasted women know, sometimes it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Big breasts may be seen as desirable in Western culture, but there’s no denying the fact that they can have distinct downsides: They are at a higher risk of sagging, they often contribute to the development of chronic back pain, and they make engaging in cardiovascular exercise all but impossible. Furthermore, for some women, having large breasts becomes a source of insecurity rather than confidence. Big-breasted women often worry that they will be perceived as being less intelligent or capable than their peers based solely on their breast size. Likewise, many of these women don’t enjoy the level of attention they receive from strangers.

Large breasts can have aesthetic drawbacks, too. Large breasts are more likely to have an oblong, rather than round, shape. Many women dislike this shape, especially because it tends to make sagging appear more exaggerated.

To help large-breasted women address all of the issues above, plastic surgeons offer a procedure known as breast reduction surgery. During breast reduction surgery, both breast tissue and excess skin are removed, then the breasts are contoured. As a result, the patient emerges from surgery with breasts that are not only smaller than the ones she had before, but also rounder and perkier.

Should You Have Breast Surgery?

Having breast surgery is an intensely personal decision; no one can tell you whether or not it’s the right choice for you. What we can say with surety, however, is that breast surgery has helped many women overcome their bodily insecurities and lead a fuller, happier life. If you feel like concerns about the size or shape of your breasts are holding you back, we recommend coming in for a consultation. Doing so will give you a realistic picture of what your options are and what you can expect both during and after surgery.