The U.S. Food and Drug Administration established the age ranges for women seeking breast implants; for breast reconstruction, silicone-gel filled implants and saline-filled implants were approved for women of all ages; for breast augmentation, saline implants were approved for women 18 years of age and older; silicone implants were approved for women 22 years of age and older. Because each breast implant device entails different medical risks, the minimum age of the patient for saline breast implants is different from the minimum age of the patient for silicone breast implants—because of the filler leakage and silent shell-rupture risks; thus, periodic MRI screening examinations are the recommended post-operative, follow-up therapy for the patient. In other countries, in Europe and Oceania, the national health ministries' breast implant policies do not endorse periodic MRI screening of asymptomatic patients, but suggest palpation proper—with or without an ultrasonic screening—to be sufficient post-operative therapy for most patients.
Contoured implants, also called anatomical or teardrop-shaped implants, are shaped like a natural breast and create a sloped shape when placed over the chest muscles. Round breast implants have that, well, "round" Victoria's Secret or Playboy model shape. Contoured implants may flip over if the surgeon does not create the pocket correctly, resulting in a misshapen breast. Not true with round implants. If a round breast implant flips, it still looks the same. Your decision on implant shape should be based on how you want your new breasts to look.
Of course, the breast reduction vs. breast lift question is not really cut and dry because every woman is unique. You may be unsure of what volume you would like with the breasts in a more favorable position. Breasts may be different sizes (asymmetric). The position of the nipple may be out of proportion to the amount of breast sag. Breasts may be ‘deflated’ after pregnancy. You may have heard that breast implants are the only reliable way to lift breasts. These questions can easily be addressed at the time of your consult.
If you have considerable sagging, pendulous breasts, an anchor lift, which allows a cosmetic surgeon to remove a significant amount of excess skin and sagging tissues, may yield the best results. This technique involves 3 incisions: one around the edge of the areola, one vertically from the bottom of the areola to the breast crease, and one along the inframammary fold, hidden in the breast crease. Your cosmetic surgeon may also use this technique if you are having a breast reduction with lift. While the anchor lift comes with some visible scarring, these typically will fade significantly with proper care, and are easily hidden by a bikini top.
In 1998, the U.S. FDA approved adjunct study protocols for silicone-gel filled implants only for breast reconstruction patients and for revision-surgery patients; and also approved the Dow Corning Corporation's Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) study for silicone-gel breast implants for a limited number of breast augmentation-, reconstruction-, and revision-surgery patients.
Manufacturer’s warranty programs can mitigate some of the costs of treating complications. But, the warranty payment is only available if a rupture is detected. Some surgeons fail to inform their patients of the need for periodic MRIs, or downplay the FDA recommendation in order to make a sale. “Many women don’t know about the maintenance costs and potential expenses of silicone gel implants,” reports Dr. Ellen Mahony, board-certified plastic surgeon in Westport, CT. “Because rupture with a silicone gel implant is ‘silent,’ it can go undetected for an extended period, often not becoming obvious until the process of capsular contraction has begun.” Capsular contraction leads to a more complex surgery. That means added surgical costs which your warranty may not cover.