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The Lowdown on Breast Augmentation

Last year, over 330,000 women underwent a breast augmentation procedure in the United States. That figure, although high, is not surprising—many women choose to have breast enlargement surgery in order to heighten their self-confidence or adjust to changes that come with pregnancy or aging. Breast augmentation affects the shape, size, texture, and firmness of the breasts with the help of an implant.

Breast implants, which have been commonplace since the 1970s, are available in silicone and saline varieties, according website of the surgeons at Bergman & Folkers Plastic Surgery. Silicone implants have recently surpassed saline as the most popular choice; in 2012, 72% of patients receiving a breast augmentation chose silicone, while only 28% preferred saline implants.

While both silicone and saline provide many of the same benefits for the patient, they differ slightly in shape, firmness, and ease of modification. Saline implants are filled with a salt water solution, similar to other bodily fluids, which can be pre-filled or filled during surgery if minor adjustments in implant size are desired. Silicone implants make use of soft, elastic gel that resembles natural breast tissue. Silicone implants are almost always pre-filled, meaning they cannot be easily modified like saline implants at the time of surgery.

Some women worry that a breast augmentation procedure can lead to other medical complications. Such complications are rare in modern plastic surgery procedures, but anyone who is considering breast implants should discuss the possible side effects with an experienced plastic surgeon before undergoing any surgical procedure.