Breast Implants: The Look and Feel

My Life as a Breast Implant
Are you unhappy with the size of your breasts? You aren't alone. Many women are unhappy with the size or shape of their breasts, so they decide to get breast implants. Obviously, there are many issues that a woman must consider before deciding to get implants. These issues include considering the effects on her general health, the effect the implants will have on accurate mammograms and breast self-exams, breast feeding, and of course the change in appearance. These issues will be discussed over the course of several in depth articles.

There are two different kinds of breast implants: silicone and saline. These days, only saline implants are being used, except for some studies using silicone implants. A moratorium was placed on silicone implants in 1992 due to increasing evidence that they may have had a role in causing various autoimmune and connective tissues diseases in some women. Since silicone implants were pulled from the market, several studies have been conducted to determine the safety of silicone implants. Unfortunately, most of these studies conflicted with each other. Some showed that silicone implants did, indeed, correlate with higher incidence of certain diseases while other studies showed no link between the two.

The Look
The first thing to know before you decide to get breast implants is what they are really like. The look and feel is different in many ways from that of real breasts; they are not exactly like yours, and they are bigger. Have you ever paged through a lingerie catalogue and been sure that one of the models had breast implants? Well, that's probably because implants can make the breast look unnaturally rounded. Implants are half spheres. A sphere is the shape of a ball. Normal breast shapes vary and are more parabolic. If you think back to geometry, you will remember that this is more of a U-shape. A new version has just come out. It's supposed to be more naturally shaped. Women who started with breasts bigger than a B cup size may get a "double breast." This is because the normal breast hangs, but the implants stick straight out from the chest wall. This makes the breast look like it has a hump in the middle when looking at it from the side. When a woman's breasts swell, her implants will stay the same size, causing her natural breast to swell over the top of the implant. This also causes a "double breast." In addition to the swelling associated with pregnancy, many women note that their breasts sag after childbirth. This is because the skin of the breast was stretched while swollen and the substance of the breast now hangs lower. This can result in changes that are more noticeable for women with implants, as implants will not change with the breast. When pushed up, the implants' upper border will show through the skin. Two deeply curved upside down lines get etched in the skin. When pushed together, well... they don't push together. It is like putting too balls together; they meet in the middle and leave a gap on either side. This is in contrast to the straight line formed by natural breasts. When left alone, implants leave a flat valley-like gap where the breastbone (the sternum) is, between the implants. Natural breasts slope more gradually towards the center.

The Feel
When doctors tell you that implants feel the same as normal breasts, they are talking about how it would feel to others touching your breasts, not about how they will feel to you. Saline doesn't have the same density as tissue so the weight feels different for the size. They can make it harder to sleep on your stomach and they often feel cold. In some cases, the body forms scar tissue around the implants, causing the breasts to feel hard. The difference in the feel of the breasts can also have an impact on cancer screening. If the augmented breast does not feel the same as the natural breast, it can be difficult to determine if there is a change in the breast that should be checked out. Also, there are changes that will occur in the breast due to the implant that will have nothing to do with cancer, but these changes can cause alarm when they are first noticed.

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