Breast augmentation, also known as augmentation mammaplasty or “boob job,” involves the use of breast implants to enhance the shape, size, and appearance of the breasts.
Women choose to get breast implants for various reasons, including for reconstructive purposes such as after a mastectomy or for cosmetic reasons say to correct natural breast size asymmetry or restore breast volume lost after pregnancy, weight loss, or from aging.
In this article we discuss more about scars from breast implants, how they look, whether they fade away, the time they take to heal and how you can get rid of them.
Before we dive in, let’s first understand about the different types of breast implants used, their advantages and disadvantages.
The two basic types of breast implants available are:
Saline breast implants
Saline implants are silicone shells filled with a sterile salt water solution (saline). Some are pre-filled, while others are inserted empty and then filled during the implant operation.
Should the breast implant rupture, it deflates, causing changes in breast shape and size. The leaking saline solution is absorbed and naturally expelled by your body without posing any health risk.
Saline breast implants are FDA-approved for breast augmentation in women aged 18 and older and for breast reconstruction in women of any age.
Silicone breast implants
Silicone implants also have a silicone outer shell but are instead filled with silicone gel, which closely mimics the feel of natural breast tissue. A ruptured silicone-filled implant may go unnoticed as it doesn’t collapse because any free silicone either remains within the implant shell or escapes into the breast implant pocket.
However, it may eventually lead to various problems in the breast, including changes in size or shape, pain, swelling, firmness, and lumps.
A ruptured silicone breast implant may also not cause any signs or symptoms (silent rupture). So you may need to visit your plastic surgeon regularly to assess the condition of the implants through an imaging test.
Silicone breast implants have been approved by the FDA for breast augmentation in women aged 22 or older and for breast reconstruction in women of any age.
Note: Both saline-filled implants and silicone-filled implants come in different sizes and have either smooth or textured shells.
What Does a Breast Implant Scar Look Like?
Some of the most common questions asked by women before getting breast augmentation are about scarring. Will there be scarring? What will the scar look like? Where will the scar be? Now, given that breast enhancement is a surgical procedure, scarring is inevitable.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, breast augmentation scars will often appear red or pink and slightly raised. And as they start to heal, they become less noticeable over time.
It can take up to 18 months for the scars to completely heal and mature. How fast your scars heal may be determined by various factors, including age, genetics, skin tone, and sun exposure.
As for the scars’ location, this will depend on your choice of incision placement. You can either opt for an:
- Inframammary approach. Your surgeon creates an incision in the inframammary fold, i.e., the fold under your breast, resulting in a scar that can easily be concealed with a bikini or undergarments.
- Periareolar Approach. The technique involves placing a semi-circular incision along the lower half of your areola, creating a well-camouflaged scar as it blends in with the color and texture of your nipples.
- Transaxillary Approach. The incision in this technique gets placed in the crease of your armpit, meaning you will have no scarring on your breasts at all.
Do Breast Implant Scars Go Away?
If breast augmentation is for cosmetic purposes, scarring can distract from the final look and impact your desired results. And although today’s advanced technologies and procedures help create smaller and subtler incisions than ever before, some degree of scarring is inevitable.
And while your breast implant scars won’t fade completely, there are various ways to minimize their appearance, as discussed in the section below.
How to Minimize Scars from Breast Implant After Surgery
Here are various ways you can help accelerate healing and makes scars less noticeable:
- Follow your surgeon’s instructions concerning post-operative care. Doing so not only reduces your risk of scarring but also your risk of infection, breast pain, capsular contracture, delayed wound healing, hematoma, et cetera.
- Eat healthily and stay hydrated. Eating nutritious foods and drinking plenty of water helps promote tissue regeneration and speed up wound healing.
- Avoid smoking for several weeks before and after your surgery. Smoking just one cigarette decreases your body’s ability to deliver necessary nutrients for healing after surgery, which delays healing and increases the risk of infection.
- Avoid direct sunlight exposure and wear sunscreen. Scar tissue that forms post surgery has less protection against UV light, so exposure to sunlight can make them appear darker. Moreover, your scars suffer from sunburn more easily.
Breast Implant Scar Treatments
You may still develop pronounced scars despite following all the above tips. In such a situation, there are several scar treatment options you can try once the incisions have fully healed, and your plastic surgeon gives you the green light. These treatments include:
- Taking vitamin E supplements or applying topical vitamin E to healed incisions: vitamin E helps soften scar tissue and prevent capsular contracture. Your surgeon will determine the correct dosage for your unique needs after surgery.
- Massage: gently massaging the skin around the incision sites and implant helps soften scar tissue, resulting in a less noticeable scar.
- Cortisone cream: cortisone cream can help soften the scar, which can cause it to reduce in size.
- Silicone sheeting: silicone sheets help to hydrate the scar tissue, leaving the scar flatter to the surface of the skin.
- Laser skin resurfacing: the skincare procedure uses beams of light to remove the unwanted, damaged outer skin layer while simultaneously heating the underlying skin, which stimulates collagen production. Consequently forming a new, smoother, firmer skin as the treated area heals.
- Other topical products, such as Mederma, Scarguard, and cocoa butter: such emollients hydrate your scar tissue, consequently softening your scars and reducing their appearance over time.
How Long Does It Take for Scars to Fade?
Scars often look slightly red or pink at 2-3 months, then pale purple fading to white in 8 to 12 months in most patients.
Keep in mind, the leading determinant of how well hidden and how nicely your scars heal is the experience and skill of your plastic surgeon. So be sure to choose a qualified plastic surgeon for your procedure.
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- FDA (October 23, 2019). Types of Breast Implants. fda.gov/medical-devices/breast-implants/types-breast-implants
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons (November 9, 2018). scarring could you see from breast augmentation. https://www.plasticsurgery.org/news/blog/what-sort-of-scarring-could-you-see-from-breast-augmentation
- Mayo clinic staff(August 10, 2019). Breast augmentation. mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/breast-augmentation/about/pac-20393178
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons(n.d). Breast Augmentation Augmentation Mammaplasty. plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/breast-augmentation/implants