Treatment for breast cancer often involves the full or partial removal of breast tissue through a mastectomy procedure. As part of the surgery, your doctor may offer you the option of breast reconstruction. There are various methods for reconstructing breasts, including using the body’s fatty tissues and muscles. However, the most common reconstructive techniques use breast implants.
There are two types of breast implants recommended by board-certified plastic surgeons, saline and silicone. Both saline and silicone breast implants are safe and effective, but it is important to understand each type’s benefits and drawbacks before you decide on implant surgery.
Benefits of Silicone Breast Implants
A silicone breast implant consists of a silicone shell that is prefilled with silicone gel. During your consultation with your surgeon, you will choose a breast implant with a size and shape similar to your remaining breast.
Silicone has a higher viscosity than saline, which means that it flows differently within its shell. This property means that silicone implants feel more natural and similar to human fat tissue found in natural breasts.
Due to the tension caused by the density of the silicone and the texture of the outer shell, silicone implants are less prone to wrinkling or rippling than saline implants giving you a more realistic appearance.
While silicone implants did receive some criticism early in their development, questions of toxicity from leaking silicone due to a silent rupture have been debunked by recent research. This has led the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to classify silicone breast implants as a safe medical product. However, silicone implants are not available to women under 22 years of age.
Benefits of Saline Implants
Saline breast implants are the original form of implant used for augmentation and reconstruction since the 1960s. Modern saline implants are constructed using a silicone shell that is placed inside the chest wall and filled with saline solution until it reaches your desired volume.
Saline breast implants are suitable for all women over 18 years old and offer a safer, healthier option in case of rupture. Should your saline implant rupture or leak, the sterile solution is reabsorbed into the body.
Unlike silicone implants, some saline implant types are adjustable via a remote injection port. In the months following the surgery, your surgeon can increase or decrease your implant volume by injecting or removing saline solution.
One drawback to saline implants is a tendency to cause wrinkling. If you have thin skin on your chest wall the outline of the implant shell is more visible.
Who is a Candidate for Breast Reconstruction?
Most women are good candidates for breast reconstruction after mastectomy surgery. However, if you have certain chronic illnesses or an autoimmune disease, you have a higher risk of complications and implant rejection.
If you need to have radiation or chemotherapy following your mastectomy, your doctor may suggest delaying your implant procedure until your treatment is complete.
Complications with Breast Implants
Although breast implant surgery is a safe and common procedure, there are still risks involved with getting implants after a mastectomy, including:
- Capsular contracture in which the tissues surrounding the implant tighten, resulting in hardening of the breast and pain.
- Calcification of the breast tissue
- Toxic shock syndrome
- Implant rupture
Factors To Consider Before Getting Breast Implants
Before recommending breast implant surgery to reconstruct your breasts, your surgeon will discuss your options and present you with risks and factors to consider before getting plastic surgery.
- Breast implants are not designed to last a lifetime. Almost 50% of breast implants used in reconstructive surgery will be removed, replaced, or modified after ten years.
- Breast implants will not prevent your breasts from sagging, so you may need a breast lift surgery to obtain the shape and appearance you desire.
- Mammograms with breast implants are more complicated, and the added pressure on your implant can feel uncomfortable and increase the risk of rupture.
- You may need an MRI every three years, according to the FDA, to ensure no silicone is leaking.
- Breast implants can impede breastfeeding by blocking milk ducts or limiting milk production.
- Getting breast implants can cost a significant amount of money, and some insurance providers do not cover the surgery as part of your cancer treatment.
Alternatives to Reconstruction
If you have chosen to delay your reconstruction or forgo the procedure entirely, there are many other options to help you regain your shape after a mastectomy. Silicone breast forms are an excellent option as they mimic the weight and feel of natural breast tissue.
Silicone breast forms come in a range of shapes and sizes. They can be worn directly against your chest wall using skin-friendly adhesive or inside a pocketed mastectomy bra for added security.
The best way to find the right breast form for your body is with a personalized, professional fitting at A Fitting Experience Mastectomy Shoppe following your surgery. Our BOC-certified fitters can assess your skin’s condition, take accurate measurements, and help you try on a selection of compatible breast forms and mastectomy bras that offer you the best comfort and support.
Find High-Quality Breast Prostheses at A Fitting Experience Mastectomy Shoppe
If you have opted against a breast reconstruction or delayed the procedure due to treatment or medical issues, breast prostheses can help provide balance and symmetry to your silhouette.
Call A Fitting Experience Mastectomy Shoppe at (954) 978-8287 to schedule a professional fitting for a breast prosthesis and mastectomy bra, or speak with our experienced staff about custom breast forms to give you confidence after breast cancer.