Implants come in a variety of shapes, sizes and textures. There are silicone, saline, smooth breast implants, textured breast implants, round breast implants and anatomical breast implants. There are also various "profiles," such as moderate, high and low profile. Familiarize yourself with the options available so you can get an idea of what type of implant you want, and knowing the advantages and disadvantages to all of the breast implants currently available will allow you to ask more educated questions at your consult, as well as help you to decide which particular breast implant is right for you.
When you start on your breast augmentation journey, you may think that referencing a certain bra cup size will relay the information your doctor needs to know. But since bra sizing varies from company to company, breast implants are referenced in terms of volume, measured in cc’s. Referencing bra sizes opens up opportunity for miscommunication between a doctor and the patient. However, don’t be discouraged—you will quickly learn in your consultation what sizes you really have in mind. The average size implant is around 330 cc’s, while an implant with 450 cc's is typically too large for the average woman to be comfortable.
Width and Dimension
There is a bit of measuring involved when determining what size implant to use. You will need to know the dimensions of your chest and existing breasts. The breast width is measured from the inner cleavage to the outer part of your breast adjacent to your arm. A typical measurement here for a woman is between 11 and 14 cm wide.
An implant slightly smaller than or the same measurement as your breast measurement is considered by most doctors to be the most flattering. For instance, if your breast measurement is 12 cm wide, you would look best with an implant of 11 to 12 cm. Any bigger and it would look out of place on your body frame.
Another factor to consider when deciding on the size of the implants is your breast tissue. A patient with thick breast tissue will be able to accommodate a wider implant than a patient with thin breast tissue. This is because over time wide implants will stretch the breast tissue, making rippling more prevalent because of the decreased amount of padding surrounding the breast. Thick tissue will pad the breast and make rippling less obvious, so a wider implant may work under that condition.
FDA Approval of Breast Implants
There are many different types of breast implants available in the United States. Only three companies—Mentor Corp., Allergan, and Sientra—have received FDA approval for their implants.
Five silicone gel-filled breast implants have been approved by the FDA
- Allergan Natrelle (Premarket application number: P020056) (Approved November 2006)
- Allergan Natrelle 410 Highly Cohesive Anatomically Shaped Silicone-Filled Breast Implants (Premarket application number: P040046) (Approved February 2013)
- Mentor MemoryGel (Premarket application number: P030053) (Approved November 2006)
- Mentor MemoryShape (Premarket application number: P060028) (Approved June 2013)
- Sientra’s Silicone Gel Breast Implants (Premarket application number: P070004) (Approved March 2012)
Three saline filled breast implants have been approved by the FDA
- Ideal Saline-Filled Breast Implant (Premarket Application Number: P120011)
- Allergan (formerly called McGhan and Inamed) Medical RTV Saline-Filled Breast Implant (Premarket application number: P990074)
- Mentor Saline-Filled and Spectrum Breast Implants (Premarket application number: P990075)
Visit the following web pages to learn more about each breast implant manufacturer:
Nagor Breast Implant Specifications (not available in the U.S.)
Updated October 2016