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Breast Implant Feel Is Just as Important as Appearance

As plastic surgeons, we are trained to use a very refined eye to try to achieve the best appearance in anything we do. For breast augmentation, something I specialize in and have for nearly 11 years in practice, this involves striving to create the best shape and symmetry for the breasts. It is even commonplace at national meetings for plastic surgeons to sometimes “rate” cases based on reviewing slides of surgical results, which is simply rating the appearance aspect. Although most of the attention until now has been on the “appearance” of the breast rather than the “feel”, I think it’s time to pay a little more attention to the “feel” of the implant and the breast.

While many women are happy with their saline breast implant appearance, the feel is not as natural when compared to silicone gel implants. Most patients that have aging saline implants come in at some point to exchange them for silicone gel because they really want a more natural, “breast-like” feel. I dedicate a large part of my practice as an aesthetic breast specialist to revision breast augmentation. There are many patients who have old saline implants above the muscle that are often contracted, sometimes creating a “shelf-like” appearance to the top of the chest. This affects everything from the appearance of the breasts to the type of clothes the individual is able to wear. In addition, many of these patients can be described as “hug-a-phobic” – a term I invented to characterize individuals who are “scared” to hug their friends and family because they fear the hard and unnatural feel of their breasts is a “giveaway” that they have implants. In many of these patients, I have found that after switching them to softer silicone gel implants placed under the muscle, the appearance and natural slope is better, and their breasts are much more natural-looking and softer-feeling. It is rewarding to hear these patients tell me they are finally able to hug their family and friends without anxiety.

Even within the spectrum of the many types of silicone gel implants that are available in 2015, some are clearly firmer and softer than others. I do honestly believe that softness makes a difference, and if a silicone gel implant gets too firm, then it is like a saline or contracted implant. For these reasons, selecting the right silicone gel breast implant can be extremely important.

Ultimately – in contrast to a trending Realself survey that questioned a small pool of patients and suggested that look was more important than feel – I have found in my practice that look and feel are equally important, and significant attention and detail needs to be given to both features to achieve the best possible results and happy patients.

Dr. James F. Boynton, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon

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