Breast Implant Placement

Breast implants can be placed either above or below the chest muscle, both of which provide their own benefits in respect to looks, feel, and recovery times. Because every woman is unique, the most appropriate technique will depend on the needs of the individual patient. During a free consultation at our Bethesda, MD, practice, Dr. Roger J. Oldham will explain the different breast implant placement options in detail and help you determine which works best for your cosmetic and physiological goals. 

The Importance of the Muscle When Placing Breast Implants

The chest or pectoral muscle plays a significant role in breast implant placement. In addition to shaping the upper portion of the breast, it also covers and protects underlying soft tissue. In patients with little of their own breast tissue, submuscular placement often delivers much more natural-looking results than placement above the muscle.

Natural breasts are slightly sloped at the top, not overly-round. The extra tissue places just enough pressure to prevent the implants from appearing too rounded or spherical. Because saline implants are typically much stiffer compared to their silicone counterparts, they are almost always placed below the muscle. Silicone implants can be placed either above or below the muscle, depending on the specific needs of the patient.

Ilustration comparing submuscular and subglandular implant placement

Pros and Cons of Submuscular Breast Implant Placement

Placed beneath the pectoral muscle, submuscular implants generally deliver more aesthetically pleasing results in women with little to no natural breast tissue. This type of placement can also reduce the risk for capsular contracture, a condition in which scar tissue forms around the implants, causing the breast to become hard and distorted. Furthermore, submuscular implants also are less likely to obscure breast tissue during mammograms, which minimizes the danger of undiagnosed breast cancer.

The pectoral muscle plays a significant role in breast implant placement.

It is important to note, however, that the constant pressure from the pectoral muscles may cause displacement over time, especially when the chest muscles are flexed. This is why submuscular placement is less likely to be recommended for women who practice bodybuilding or lift weights regularly. 

Pros and Cons of Subglandular Breast Implant Placement

Placed above the pectoral muscle and below the breast tissue, subglandular implants do not move or shift when the chest muscles are flexed. As a result, the breasts will always look natural. In fact, implants placed above the muscle can actually minimize sagging and reduce the need for a breast lift. Compared to submuscular implants, a significant advantage of subglandular implants is that they typically require less recovery time and cause less discomfort during healing.

There are a few disadvantages to subglandular placement, however. For example, women without adequate natural breast tissue may experience visible issues over time, such as folding or rippling. Subglandular implants may be more likely to interfere with mammograms, as more of the natural breast tissue is obstructed.

Contact Our Practice to Discuss Your Options

Patients who are seeking breast augmentation have several factors to consider, including implant size, implant material, and implant placement. To learn more, schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Oldham. Call us at (301) 530-6100 or contact us online anytime.

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