Breast Augmentation Options : Implants or Fat Transfer?

Breast augmentations come in a variety of sizes, from small to extra large.

Breast Augmentation Options : Implants or Fat Transfer?

Though breast augmentation is a simple operation, patients have a variety of options when pursuing the procedure. Price range, long-term safety, expectation, and final appearance are all variables patients must consider. The two most popular approaches to breast augmentation are implants, saline and silicone, and fat transfer procedures

 

Cost of breast implants

Saline

The most affordable of the three options are saline implants. These implants consist of a durable silicone shell filled with salt water, also known as saline solution. While cost may vary depending on desired size and choice of surgeon, saline implants are almost always the most affordable.

A woman choosing between a saline and silicone implant (from left to right) for her breast augmentation.
A woman choosing between a saline and silicone implant (from left to right) for her breast augmentation.

Silicone

The second most affordable option are silicone implants. Similar to saline implants, silicone implants begin with a silicone shell. They are then filled with silicone gel rather than saline solution. Silicone gel is a gummy-like polymer without any known allergens that feels very similar to human fat. On average, silicone implants cost about $1000 more than simple saline implants. 

 

Fat Transfer

The most expensive option of the three is the fat transfer breast augmentation. While there is no actual implantation performed, fat transfers require liposuction in addition to breast augmentation. Fat removed from one area must also be treated in order to be safely used in the breasts, further increasing the cost. Total costs depend on the plastic surgeon performing the procedure. 

A patient receiving liposuction treatment. This removed fat can be treated and then re-injected as a fat transfer.
A patient receiving liposuction treatment. This removed fat can be treated and then re-injected as a fat transfer.

 

Safety of breast implants

Saline

Saline is considered one of the safest methods of breast augmentation as saline solution can be absorbed by the body. The silicone shell is designed to last for over a decade, but this is not guaranteed. Though durable, implants can rupture or begin to leak after excessive trauma, such as after a fall. In this case, surgeons need only to remove the damaged shell and replace it with a new saline implant. Patients as young as 18 are eligible for saline implants due to their overall safety.

 

Silicone

While the silicone shell itself is safe for use, the silicone gel inside can pose problems. In the case of a leak or tear, the gel cannot be absorbed by the body. Surgeons will need to remove the implant as well as any possible gel that escaped. Silicone implants also tend to have slower, less noticable leaks than their saline counterparts. For this reason, many surgeons recommend that patients schedule bi-yearly MRI scans as check-ups. Patients looking to receive silicone implants must be 21 years old before they are eligible for the procedure.

 

Fat Transfer

Fat transfer breast augmentations are the most natural and safe procedure in the long run. They can experience a wider variety of near-immediate complications despite using the patient’s own fat. The liposuctioned and treated fat cells run the risk of dying or re-metabolizing following the transfer. If considering a fat transfer breast augmentation, it is important to consult a board certified surgeon first. To set up a consultation with Dr. Tumi, you can contact Barrie Plastic Surgery at any time. Patients must be at least 18 years of age to be considered for the procedure. 

Fat that has been liposuctioned out and treated. It is now ready for a fat transfer procedure.
Fat that has been liposuctioned out and treated. It is now ready for a fat transfer procedure.

Potential results of breast implants

Saline

Saline implants offer the widest range of potential sizes for patients. Implant shells are usually filled with saline solution after implantation, meaning patients can request any desired size. This fill-valve allows for size adjustment following the procedure, as it only requires adding more saline. Saline implants also offer a larger maximum capacity, reaching 960cc (960ml) in the North American market

A surgeon holding an empty implant shell before inserting it during a breast augmentation.
A surgeon holding an empty implant shell before inserting it during a breast augmentation.

Silicone

To reduce the chance of leakage, silicone gel is added during manufacture. Silicone implants arrive pre-filled and commonly increase in 50cc increments. As such, increases in size require complete replacement of the original implant with a new implant. Silicone implants are also limited to a maximum size of 800cc in the North American market.

 

Fat Transfer

Despite the amount of fat liposuctioned out of a patient, fat transfer augmentations offer only subtle changes. Most surgeons can only promise a single cup size in enlargement with a fat transfer. This size increase can also slightly diminish after the procedure as some fat cells may be re-metabolized.

 

Appearance of breast implants

Saline

One of the most attractive benefits of saline implants is the minimal scarring left after the procedure. Saline implants only require small incisions to implant the empty silicone shells, resulting in very minimal scarring. 

 

The simplicity of these implants can only offer simple results, though. These implants are almost always orb shaped, which may not look as natural with larger sizes. The orb shape is not an issue with younger patients, but can pose an issue later in life. As a patient ages, this orbular shape will not support the base of the breasts, causing an oblong appearance. Patients may not appreciate this new look, and will need the implants removed. Saline implants are also susceptible to “rippling” with age. Implants, due to their shape, tend to ripple around their edges when filled. If a patient begins to lose weight, this rippling may show through the skin around the base of the breast. There are a variety of solutions for this, though, depending on what the patient desires.

 

Silicone

The main drawback of silicone implants is the amount of scarring that accompanies them, albeit minimal. Surgeons must insert the silicone implant whole, requiring larger incisions. Most surgeons can place the incisions strategically, though, reducing their visibility. 

The different sizes and shapes that silicone breast implants can offer in a breast augmentation.
The different sizes and shapes that silicone breast implants can offer in a breast augmentation.

Due to its viscous consistency, silicone implants can provide a wider variety of shapes. Width and depth are common variables that patients must decide on. “Tear-drop” implants are often sought after by patients for their natural look, regardless of size or patient age. Silicone implants are also less susceptible to rippling after weight loss. The higher density silicone gel reduces the depth of each ripple, reducing the possible appearance of breast rippling. 

 

Fat Transfer

Since there is no solid object being implanted for augmentation, fat transfer promises the least amount of scarring. Once liposuctioned out and treated, fat cells are simply re-inserted into the breast through multiple, small injections. This approach offers virtually no scarring on or around the breast.

 

Though fat transfer is restricted in size, there are a wide variety of shapes with a fat transfer augmentation. Fat cells can be injected into the base of the breast, allowing for a more full look. Another major factor for patients looking for a fat transfer procedure is that it involves liposuction. While implants only increase breast size, fat transfers increase breast size while shrinking the waistline. 

 

Contact Barrie Plastic Surgery today!

If you’re considering a breast augmentation procedure, contact Barrie Plastic Surgery for a consultation! Dr. Tumi and the team at Barrie Plastic Surgery offer all three augmentation options for our patients. If you need more time to decide, consider following us on Facebook and Instagram. We’re always posting fun facts and exclusive deals for our followers to enjoy. We look forward to helping you achieve your dream body.

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