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Breast Implant Placement: Above vs Below Muscle

Breast Implant Placement: Above vs Below MuscleWhen considering breast implants for breast augmentation, one of the key decisions to make is whether to place the implants above or below the muscle. Both options have their own set of pros and cons, so it’s important to understand the differences between the two before making a decision. In this blog post, we will explore the basics of breast implant placement, the pros and cons of above muscle placement, the pros and cons of below muscle placement, how to decide which placement is right for you, and recovery and aftercare for both placement types. McLain Surgical Arts, led by cosmetic surgeon Dr. Landon D. McLain, provides breast augmentation to patients in Huntsville, Madison, Florence, Decatur, Scottsboro, Cullman, Athens, Alabama, and surrounding locations.

Understanding the Basics of Breast Implant Placement

In the world of cosmetic surgery, deciding where to position breast implants is a pivotal choice that significantly influences the final look and feel of the augmentation. There are two primary options for implant placement: above the pectoral muscle, known as subglandular placement, and below the pectoral muscle, referred to as submuscular placement. Subglandular placement situates the implant directly beneath the breast tissue but on top of the muscle, a method that may be suitable for individuals seeking a less invasive procedure with a potentially quicker recovery timeline. On the other hand, submuscular placement positions the implant wholly or partially beneath the pectoral muscle. This method is typically considered by those desiring a more natural appearance and feel, as the muscle offers an additional layer over the implant, which can be particularly beneficial for individuals with less natural breast tissue or those concerned about the visibility of the implant’s edges. Each placement option carries its unique set of implications regarding surgical outcomes, aesthetic results, and the potential for future complications. Therefore, understanding the distinctions between subglandular and submuscular placements is crucial for anyone contemplating breast augmentation, as this knowledge forms the foundation for making an informed decision aligned with their personal goals and physical characteristics.

Exploring Above Muscle Placement: Pros and Cons

Above muscle placement of breast implants, otherwise known as subglandular placement, presents several key advantages that cater to specific aesthetic desires and recovery preferences. This approach is particularly appealing to those who already have a moderate amount of breast tissue. In such cases, the placement of the implant directly beneath the breast tissue can accentuate the existing natural contours, providing a more pronounced and immediate result without the need for the underlying muscle to adapt. As a result, individuals may observe a significant enhancement in breast volume and shape shortly after surgery, aligning with expectations for a more noticeable transformation.

One of the noteworthy benefits of choosing above muscle placement lies in the recovery experience. Since this method does not involve disturbing the pectoral muscles, patients often report a shorter and less discomforting post-surgical recovery period. The absence of muscle healing reduces the overall discomfort and allows for a quicker return to daily activities, making it an attractive option for those seeking a less demanding recovery process.

However, it’s essential to weigh these advantages against the potential downsides of subglandular placement. Without the additional layer of muscle coverage, implants placed above the muscle might be more visible under the skin, particularly in individuals with minimal natural breast tissue. This can lead to a higher likelihood of implant edges being discernible through the skin or an increased risk of rippling. Such concerns are significant considerations for patients prioritizing a natural look and feel, as well as for those with thinner skin types, where the implant’s presence might be more pronounced.

Delving into Below Muscle Placement: Pros and Cons

Below muscle placement, also known as submuscular placement, offers a variety of benefits, particularly appealing to individuals with a slender build or those who have limited natural breast tissue. One of the primary advantages of this technique is the enhanced natural look it provides. By placing the implant underneath the muscle, there is a smoother transition between the breast and the implant, which can significantly diminish the visibility of the implant edges, making this approach ideal for achieving a more natural aesthetic. Additionally, the muscle layer adds a buffer that can minimize the risk of rippling, a concern for patients with thinner skin or less tissue to cover the implant.

This method is also associated with a potentially lower incidence of capsular contracture, a condition where hard scar tissue forms around the implant, leading to firmness or discomfort. The theory is that the under-muscle placement might reduce the risk of this complication, although individual results can vary.

On the downside, the insertion of implants beneath the muscle can make for a more complex surgery and typically involves a longer recovery period. Because the pectoral muscle must be lifted to accommodate the implant, patients might experience more discomfort during the initial recovery phase. This approach requires the muscle to heal and adjust to the presence of the implant, which can extend the overall recovery time and may temporarily limit physical activities, especially those involving upper body strength.

Despite these considerations, for many seeking a natural appearance and those with specific anatomical considerations, the benefits of submuscular placement might outweigh the drawbacks. Each patient’s body and expectations are unique, necessitating a personalized approach in consultation with a cosmetic surgeon.

Deciding Which Placement is Right for You

Making the choice between above muscle (subglandular) and below muscle (submuscular) implant placement is a personal one, deeply influenced by your body type, aesthetic objectives, and lifestyle. Engaging in a detailed conversation with a board-certified cosmetic surgeon is crucial for mapping out the route that aligns best with your visions for breast augmentation. During this discussion, your surgeon will evaluate your physical attributes, including the amount of natural breast tissue you have and your skin’s thickness, which are pivotal in determining the most suitable placement option.

Your lifestyle and daily activities should also be taken into account. If you’re actively involved in sports or physical activities that require upper body strength, this may influence the recommendation your surgeon provides, given the different recovery implications of each placement type.

Furthermore, your expectations for the surgery’s outcome play a significant role in this decision-making process. Whether you’re aiming for a more noticeable enhancement or a subtler, natural look can sway the choice towards one placement over the other. Discussing the potential for future mammograms and the ease of breast feeding post-surgery with implants in place can also guide the decision-making process.

Remember, this decision is as unique as you are. It’s about finding the right balance between your desires, your body’s characteristics, and the professional advice of your surgeon to achieve the best possible outcome.

Recovery and Aftercare for Both Placement Types

The journey to recovery post-breast implant surgery demands careful adherence to your surgeon’s aftercare instructions to ensure the best healing and outcome, regardless of the implant placement. For both above and below muscle placements, wearing a specially designed supportive bra is critical in the weeks following surgery to aid in proper positioning and comfort of the implants.

Activity restrictions play a key role in the recovery process. It’s crucial to avoid lifting, pushing, or pulling anything heavy for a specified period, typically up to six weeks, to prevent straining the surgical sites. Gentle walks can aid circulation and reduce the risk of blood clots, but high-impact exercises and upper body workouts should be postponed until your surgeon advises it’s safe to resume.

Monitoring for signs of infection or complications is also vital. Any unusual symptoms such as excessive swelling, redness, or discharge should be reported to your surgeon immediately.

While the specifics of aftercare might differ slightly between above and below muscle placements—mainly due to the potential for increased discomfort and a longer healing timeline when the muscle is involved—the essence of recovery focuses on allowing the body to heal at its own pace. Patience, coupled with diligent follow-up care, can significantly impact the healing process and the overall satisfaction with your breast augmentation outcome.

Frequently Asked Questions About Breast Implant Placement

Q: What’s the average recovery timeline after breast implant surgery?

A: The recovery period varies by individual but generally, patients may resume work and light activities within 1-2 weeks post-surgery, with full recovery and the ability to engage in strenuous activities taking longer.

Q: Can breast implants affect future breastfeeding?

A: Most women with breast implants can breastfeed successfully. However, the type of surgery and the placement of the implant can impact this, so it’s essential to discuss your breastfeeding plans with your surgeon beforehand.

Q: Are there specific risks associated with the placement of breast implants?

A: Depending on the placement, risks may include infection, capsular contracture, implant rupture, or changes in nipple and breast sensation. The risk profile may vary slightly between subglandular and submuscular placements, highlighting the importance of a personalized consultation with your cosmetic surgeon to understand the risks related to your chosen placement.

Q: Do breast implants need to be replaced over time?

A: Breast implants can last many years but are not considered lifetime devices. Regular check-ups are recommended to assess the condition of the implants, and replacement might be necessary due to factors like implant rupture or capsular contracture.

Contact McLain Surgical Arts in Huntsville, AL to Schedule a Consultation

McLain Surgical Arts is a leading cosmetic surgery practice headed by Dr. Landon D. McLain MD, DMD, FACS in Huntsville, AL.  Dr. McLain is a double board certified cosmetic and oral & maxillofacial surgeon, offering a variety of procedures such as dental implants, wisdom teeth extraction, breast augmentation, liposuction, rhinoplasty, tummy tuck, facelift, Botox, and laser skin resurfacing.

For more information or to schedule a consultation call 256.429.3411 or click here.

Now taking patients from Huntsville, Scottsboro, Decatur, Madison, Athens, Florence, Cullman, AL and surrounding areas.

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