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Archive for the ‘breast implants’ Category

Bra and Breast Implant Cup Size Volumes

Friday, April 28th, 2017


In breast augmentation surgery women should choose implant size based on the way it makes the breast look. But the obvious question from prospective patients is what cup size will I be afterwards? Ot what implant volume is needed to give the cup size they want? Historically the common answer is that a cup size is about 100cc, more or less based on the size of the patient. The correlation between bra cup size and implant volumes has never been directly studied and compared.

In the May 2017 issue of the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery a paper was published entitled ‘What Is the Standard Volume to Increase a Cup Size for Breast Augmentation Surgery? A Novel Three-Dimensional Computed Tomographic Approach’. The authors used five bra cup sizes from three different manufacturers to assess their volumes using linear measurements, water displacement and volume calculations from 3D CT reconstructions. In addition almost 80 breast augmentation patients were assessed comparing implant volume and patient questionnaires. Their reported results showed that amongst bra manufacturers an average volume of 135cc for each cup size increase was found. In patients the average volume increase per cup size was 138cc.

To no surprises the authors found that there was no standardization of cup sizes amongst the manufacturers studied. The authors conclude that a range of 130ccs to 150ccs is equivalent to a one cup size increase. Narrow bra widths need 130cc while larger bra widths need 150ccs.

While the size of the patient undergoing breast augmentation is well known to affect how the augmented breast will look, it is good to offer patients some general guidelines. Whether it is for a primary breast augmentation or for the patient changing implants for size reasons, the use of a 125cc to 150cc breast implant volume per cup size is vey helpful. For small women it is probably closer to 100cc while for larger women the use of 150ccs is more accurate.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Anatomic Breast Implants

Friday, March 24th, 2017


Anatomic Shaped Breast Implants Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisBreast augmentation is primarily done using round smooth implants in the vast majority of cases in the U.S. Anatomic or shaped breast implants, while widely used elsewhere in the world, only became approved in the U.S.in 2012. The anatomic shaped implant have gained traction amongst some patients with the belief that they will look more natural. This seems perfectly logical when looking at the shape of the implant with less upper pole fullness to it. (a natural look being defined as less round looking)

But the use of anatomic breast implants is not without their own disadvantages. They cost more, can potentially rotate postoperatively and require some modification in the surgical technique to place them. They also have a textured coating on their outer shell (to prevent rotation) and can feel more stiff or firm than round smooth breast implants.

In the March 2017 issue of the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery an article was published entitled ‘Intraoperative Comparison of Anatomical vs Round Implants in Breast Augmentation: A Randomized Clinical Trial’. In this paper the authors looked at 75 primary breast augmentation patients with a round implant placed in one breast and an anatomical implant of similar dimensions and size placed in the other breast. After intraoperative pictures were taken the anatomical implant was replaced with a round one  before closure. The intraoperative appearance of the breasts was then assessed by blinded visual evaluations amongst plastic surgeons and lay reviewers.

The study results showed that no observable difference was observed between the two shapes of breast implants in 43% of the cases reviewed by plastic surgeons and 30% of the cases reviewed by lay reviewers. When a difference between the tow sides was observed plastic surgeons judged the anatomical side better in 51% of the cases. Lay reviewers judged the anatomical side better in 47% of the cases. Plastic surgeons identified the correct implant shape in only 25% of the cases. Based on these findings the authors conclude there is no aesthetic advantage provided by anatomic breast implants.

This study is very unique in that it tests how the two different implants look in the same patient. I initially thought the patient was going to be implanted and maintained with two different implants but ths study is understandably limited to intraoperative observations only. On the surface this study provides compelling evidence that anatomic implants do not offer a more natural result than that of round implants.

Anatomic Breast Implants results oblique view Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisBut like all clinical studies, it has limitations that makes its conclusion not as compelling as it might otherwise seem. I find three specific issues that the study does not take into consideration which can affect the results. First, the final shape of any implant in the body requires tissue contraction around the implant. (not just swelling resolution) All implant pockets involve elevation of tissues from their natural position. How any implant looks with the tissues have yet to contract back down around the inserted implant can not be accurately predicted during surgery. Second, this study involves relatively small implants. (average size less than 300ccs) At this end of the implant size spectrum shape differences may not be as fully evident as in larger implant sizes. Lastly what the condition of the breast tissues are on top of the implant will affect on how it looks. Such a study variable can only be controlled by using prepregnancy breast tissues without ptosis that otherwise look fairly similar.

The most relevant conclusion from this study for me, and what I tell patients all the time, is that the use of anatomic breast implants should be done for compelling reasons. Such implants have some disadvantages that round implants don’t have. Thus their use should be for good reasons such as the patient’s desire to do everything they can to avoid a round breast augmentation result. This becomes particularly relevant as breast implant size becomes bigger.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Case Study: 18 Year Old Silicone Breast Augmentation

Friday, March 24th, 2017


Background: The use of silicone implants for breast augmentation has now been done since 2006 when this implant filler material was re-introduced as an implant option. One of the stated restrictions with their use was that patients had to be 22 years or older. This was a position imposed on the manufacturers as issued by the FDA. As a result this is on the package inserts as indications for clinical use.

This silicone breast implant guideline from the FDA causes considerable confusion. Many breast augmentation patients under 22 years old want silicone rather than saline implants but feel they can not have them. Plastic surgeons may also follow this guideline rigidly feeling that they don’t want to be violation with the FDA. They may also feel that implanting young patients with these devices may invalidate the manufacturer’s warranty.

There is some debate as to why the FDA imposed this clinical guideline. One belief is that there were no patients under 22 years old in the submitted clinical study used for FDA evaluation. This would seem to be the most logical explanation but apparently there some such patients in the study. It is more likely that there was simply not enough patients in this age group to draw the same conclusions as the older patients.

Case Study: This 18 year-old female wanted breast implants but preferred silicone over a saline implant fill. She developed little natural breast tissue and had small but visible breast mounds.

Young Breast Augmentation results front view Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisUnder general anesthesia and through a transaxillary approach, 375cc high profile silicone implants were placed in a submuscular position. The implants were inserted using a funnel device to minimize any handling of the implants as well as to allow them to be placed in a ‘scarless’ fashion through a small hidden incision.

Young Breast Augmentation results oblique view Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisYoung Breast Augmentation results side view Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisHer after surgery results show excellent symmetry of the implants with an expected rounder shape to the enlarged breast mounds.  She had wide sternal spacing of the implants but this was to be expected based on her preoperative anatomy.

There is no clinical difference in the use of silicone breast implants whether one is older or younger than the age of 22 years old. Their use should be based on surgeon discretion and presurgical patient education.


  1. Per manufacturer guidelines, silicone breast augmentation is for patients 22 years and older.
  2. Silicone breast augmentation can be done on women as young as age 18.
  3. The tight skin of young patients will create more of a round breast look with implant placement.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Case Study – Breast Asymmetry Augmentation

Monday, March 6th, 2017


Background: While few women have symmetric breasts, it is not rare that many breast augmentation patients expect symmetric looking breasts after surgery. This common expectation has led to the plastic surgery phrase ‘breasts are sisters and not twins’, which is usually provided as part of the preoperative counseling.

While most breast asymmetries are caused by pregnancy and weight loss/gain and can be relatively minor, more significant breast asymmetries are congenital in origin. The breasts  simply developed differently. There will be differences in the size of the breast mounds and with that comes horizontal nipple-areolar and inframammay fold position differences.

In placing implants in more significant breast asymmetries, there is the obvious issue of implant size (in ccs) and whether two similar or different implant volumes should be used. But managing the nipple-areolar and breast fold differences is often of equal if not greater importance in some cases.

Case Study: This 21 year-old Indian female presented for breast implants. She had previously tried fat injections for breast size increase but the result was too modest. She now wanted implants to achieve a more profound breast size increase. The right breast mound was noticeably smaller with a lower nipple position and a higher inframammary fold level. Her right breast was really a variant of a constricted breast deformity.

Breast Asymmetry Augmentationresult front view Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisUnder general  anesthesia and through a transaxillary incisional approach, 400cc high profile silicone breast implants were placed in a dual plane (partial submuscular) position. Her postoperative results at three months a much improved mound symmetry and level of the inframammary folds. Her nipple-areolar asymmetry remained unchanged, no better or worse.

Breast Asymetry Augmentation result oblique view Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisBreast Asymmetry Augmentation result side view Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisBreast asymmetries can be effectively improved by the placement of implants alone. If the preoperative differences in the breasts are not too great it is usually best to use identically sized implants.  Mound and breast fold differences can be improved but horizontal differences in the level of the nipples will not. This can be improved by either a simultaneous superior crescent nipple lift performed either at the breast implant surgery or deferred to later where it can be performed in the office under local anesthesia.


1) Breast asymmetry is a common preoperative finding in breast augmentation surgery.

2) Breast implants may improve or even make worse the appearance of breast asymmetry based on its anatomic basis.

3) Breast mound differences are usually improved by the placement of implants.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Case Study – Breast Implants and Stretch Marks

Sunday, February 12th, 2017


Background:  The finding of stretch marks on the breasts is common and reflects loss of skin elasticity from pregnancy and/or weight gain/loss. They always occur in a radiating pattern around the areola like rays of the sun. Careful inspection of the stretch marks will reveal that they are thinner than the surrounding skin and have less pigment. In many ways, they represent skin that has partially torn and is now a line of scar.

It is rare that breast implants ever cause stretch marks. It can happen, and it is an occurrence I have read about, but no a postperative breast augmentation finding that I have ever seen. Conversely, the other question is whether placing breast implants will make existing stretch marks look worse. Since so many women have them it is an understandable concern of will happen to them afterwards when the breasts become larger.

Case Study: This 32 year-old female came in for breast implants. She had lost most of her breast volume after multiple pregnancies. Despite the involution her nipples had good position above her inframammary folds. But she did have many wide and deep stretch marks radiating outward from her areola in a 360 degree pattern.

Breast Implants and Stretch Marks result front view Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisUnder general anesthesia and through inframammary incisions , 325cc smooth round silicone breast implants were placed in a dual plane position. Her stretched out breast mound skin had no problem accommodating these modest size breast implants.

Breast Implants and Stretch marks result oblique view Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisBreast Implants and Stretch Marks result side view Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisHer breast appearance just a few weeks after surgery shows stretch marks that actually appear worse. Often times the immediate stretch of the tissues from the implants makes the scar hyperemic and the small capillaries in them dilate. This subsides over first couple months as the swelling goes down and the skin relaxes.


1) Having stretch marks on the breasts does not preclude one from having breast implants.

2) Breast augmentation surgery may temporarily make severe stretch marks look worse due to temporary redness.

3) Breast augmentation surgery, on average, does not appear to make stretch marks look better or worse in the long run.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Case Study – Weight Loss Breast Augmentation

Saturday, February 11th, 2017


Background:  Significant weight loss, albeit through diet and exercise or bariatric surgery, will have a dramatic effect on all body areas. As the fat is burned off the support for the skin is lost. This causes an overall body sag that creates a well known collection of body changes that are most reflected centrally in the trunk.

For women one of the most affected areas is that of the breasts. The loss of breast volume allows the overlying skin to sag and the nipples to head south. What degree of breast sag that ensues depends on how large the breasts were initially and whether they had any significant sag before the weight loss. Smaller breasts develop less sag while larger breasts can have a dramatic sag with a large skin sleeve that ends up having them lay against the upper abdomen.

Breast implants are almost always needed for ‘reconstruction’ of the weight loss breast. Whether they can be effective by themselves without the need for a breast lift depends on how much skin sag exists.

Weight Loss Breast Augmentation Female before surgery Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisCase Study: This 22 year-old female underwent a 60lb weight loss on her own without the need for bariatric surgery. The breasts must have been initially small ad the skin sag was slight and the nipples still remained fairly centralized on the reduced mound size.

Weight Loss Breast Augmentation result front view Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisWeight Loss Breast Augmentation result right oblique view Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisUnder general anesthesia, a transaxillary approach was used to place 375cc saline breast implants that were filled bilaterally to 450ccs in the partial submuscular position. This filled out her breasts fully. Like many transaxillary breat augmentation approaches, the initial result will have slightly too much upper pole fullness which will settle over time.

Weight Loss Breast Augmentation result side view Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisWith the nipples above the inframammary fold, breast implants is all that is needed in the large weight loss female. Unfortunately for many weight loss women the breast condition is not so favorable that implants alone will suffice.


1) Significant weight loss affects the breasts through loss of breast tissue and often creating a breast mound sag.

2) Breast implants can produce a dramatic change in breast size and shape in breasts that have lost a lot of volume. (weight loss breast augmentation)

3) Breast implants alone will work in the weight loss patient IF the position of the the nipple is at or just below the inframammary crease.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Anatomic vs Round Silicone Breast Implants

Sunday, January 22nd, 2017


Anatomic Breast Implants Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisAnatomic or tear drop breast implants purportedly offer a more natural breast augmentation result. This seems to make complete sense when one looks at the shape of an anatomic implant where it has a teardrop shape that more closely mimics a natural breast than a round-shaped implant.

In the January 2016 issue of the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery a paper on this topic was published entitled ‘Comparing Round and Anatomically Shaped Implants in Augmentation Mammoplasty: The Experts’ Ability to Differentiate the Type of Implant’. In this paper thirty (30) plastic surgeons and nurses looked at before and after pictures of thirty (30) submuscular silicone breast implants, either round or anatomic shaped) with an average volume of around 300cc (none greater than 340cc) within the first 3 months after surgery. Among the total of 1800 observations done, the observers could only accurately identify the correct implant style 50% of the time.

While previous studies looking at the same breast implant shape issue have shown similar inabilities to identify the type of implant shape used, this is the first one that has done so in a prospective analytical designed fashion. It is well known that the round or convex form of a breast implant will change into an anatomic shape in the standing position due to both the pressure of the overlying pectoral muscle and gravity. It only re-assumes a more rounded shape when laying down just like the implant looks when laying outside the patient on a table.

Anatomic Breast Implants results front view Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisAnatomic Breast Implants results oblique view Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisWhile these study results are both solid and I believe accurate, it is important to point out that its relevance is with smaller implant sizes and with them in the subpectoral pocket. Whether similar results would occur in larger breast implant sizes or in the subfascial position is open for debate. It has been my experience that in larger breast implants the effect of an anatomic breast implant is more relevant particularly in the short term. I would also have little doubt that a shaped implant would look more natural in the subfascial location.

When choosing an anatomic breast implant there should be compelling reasons to do so given their higher cost and risk of malrotation and breast shape deformation, a complication that does not exist with round implants.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Case Study – Combination Breast Implant and Lift Surgery

Sunday, January 15th, 2017


Background:  The breast is subject to many changes from the influences of time, gravity, pregnancy and fluctuation in weight. But whatever the cause the changes are very typical, loss of breast volume and sagging. Efforts to reverse these negative shape changes are also very consistent through the addition of volume and lifting and tightening the breast skin.

Breast implants can have a lifting effect but it is not as significant as many patients hope. The lifting effect of an implant works best when the breast sag is no greater than the nipple being ideally above the lower breast fold or even just at the fold level. Because one of the effects of implant expansion on the breasts is to fill out the lower pole and even lower the level of the fold to accommodate the additional volume, the nipple and the breast mound will seem to be lifted. This change is partly illusionary but there is some real lift involved also.

Significant breast sagging, however, requires some type of breast lift even when implants are used. The two types of breast lifts that have real lifting power are the vertical (lollipop) and combined vertical-horizontal (anchor style) techniques. Combining implants and lift in a single breast reshaping operation is challenging as the two operations work against each other, one expanding the breast volume and the other lifting and tightening the breast mound. Getting the right balance between the two that can meet the patient’s expectations often requires more than one operation.

Case Study: This 32year-old female wanted to reshape her deflated and sagging breasts after having several children and losing weight. She had loose stretched out breast skin as well as asymmetry with the left breast sagging lower than the right.

Breast Implant and Lift surgery result front view Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisUnder general anesthesia, she had vertical breast lifts which moved her nipple-areolar complex upward by 6cms on the right and 7cms on the left. Concurrently 500cc high profile silicone breast implants were placed in the submuscular position

Breast Implant and Lift surgery result oblique view Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisBreast Implant and Lift Surgery result side view Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisHer three month after surgery results show good implant positions, adequately lifted breast mounds up on the implants and good symmetry. Her breast scars remain red as expected at this point after surgery and will take another six months to lose the red color.

This combination breast implant and lift surgery had about as good a result as could be expected for this type of body contouring operation. Whether she will ever need a revision will now depend on how the scars mature and appear later. But many such breast reshaping operations will not do as well nor should patients expect them to do so. There are many variables in this operation that make for less than perfect results. The national average for the need for a revision in combination breast implant and lift surgery is over 30%. The most common reason is that the breast tissue remains inadequately lifted and tightened around the augmented breast mounds…or has dropped off of them a bit as the tissues have relaxed in the healing process.


1) Breasts that have lost volume and sag usually need a combination of implant volume and a lift.

2) The breast reshaping combination of breast implants and a lift is a challenging procedure to achieve good symmetric results in a single operation.

3) The revision rates in combination implant and lift breast operations is high and averages over 30%.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Supernumerary Nipple in Breast Augmentation

Monday, January 9th, 2017


A extra nipple, in either men or women, is not rare. Occurring in up to 5% of the population, it is often mistaken for a mole due to its circular appearance. What separates it from a mole is that it is raised and has a textured and not a smooth appearance. It does not usually grow in size and only gets bigger in proportion to the body as it grows.

milk-linesThe location of a supernumerary nipple is also a giveaway as it will lie along the milk lines. The milk lines are embryonic vertical lines that extend from the armpit to the legs from which arise breast tissue and nipples. They appear early in embryonic life by the end of the second month in utero and well before sexual identity is formed. (hence why men have nipples even though they will never breastfeed) The nipples will form along this line and humans always have two nipples…although more are capable of forming along the milk lines.

In most cases of extra nipples, medically known as polythelia, it will just be a single one and is usually located below the breast or chest. Hence the term third or triple nipple. In more rare cases it will be more than just a nipple and it may develop into an actual breast mound albeit much smaller than a natural breast. (polymastia)

supernumerary-nipple-dr-barry-eppley-indianapolissupernumerary-nipple-next-to-augmented-breast-dr-barry-eppley-indianapolisGiven the relative common occurrence of an accessory nipple, it would not be rare to find it on a prospective breast augmentation. This is an example of a 35 year-old female who came in for breast implants and wanted to have a raised mole removed at the same time. Its appearance was clearly that of a nipple and not a typical mole. When removed at the time of surgery, its appearance can be seen to be similar to a nipple when laid up against the augmented breast.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Product Review – Natrelle Breast Implants (Inspira Round Gel)

Sunday, December 25th, 2016


Silicone breast implants continue to evolve both in its external shell and the gel that resides inside it. The silicone gel has become far less like the liquid it originally was many years ago. The silicone has become more firm or cohesive through increased crosslinking of the silicon molecules. The urban term for these newer type of breast devices is known as ‘gummy bear breast implants’. But the manufacturers of them use the term ‘highly cohesive’ or more form stable.

natrelle-inspira-round-breast-implants-indianapolis-dr-barry-eppleyAllergan has offered silicone breast implants for years, known as the Natrelle breast implants line. They have had a highly cohesive gel in their shaped implants since 2013. (Natrelle 410 Anatomically Shaped Breast Implants) They have recently introduced this more highly cohesive gel in a round implant form. (Natrelle Inspira Round Gel Implant) The purpose in so doing is to achieve two effects: 1) hold the implant’s shape better, particularly in an upright position, to maintain upper pole fullness, and 2) for the gel to stay in place when the implant is either ruptured in vivo or cut in half when outside of the patient.

natrelle-inspira-round-gel-breast-implants-dr-barry-eppley-indianapolisAllergan’s tested comparative physical features show it is 51% more cohesive that Mentor Memory Gel and 37% more cohesive than Sientra’s style 106 implant. Comparing form stability (what happens when the implant sits straight up), the Allergan  implant was 47% more form stable than Mentor Memory Gel and 28% more form stable than Sientrs style 106 implant.

It is clear that increased gel cohesiveness is a desirous feature of a silicone breast implant. This is true both for how the implant performs long-term in the patient but also in how it is perceived by potential patients. (patients want ‘gummy bear’ breast implants) Each manufacturer now has their own version of them and they actively compare their gel cohesiveness and form stability. Natrelle breast implants now has a very competitive round silicone gel implant that is truly a gummy bear type.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Dr. Barry EppleyDr. Barry Eppley

Dr. Barry Eppley is an extensively trained plastic and cosmetic surgeon with more than 20 years of surgical experience. He is both a licensed physician and dentist as well as double board-certified in both Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. This training allows him to perform the most complex surgical procedures from cosmetic changes to the face and body to craniofacial surgery. Dr. Eppley has made extensive contributions to plastic surgery starting with the development of several advanced surgical techniques. He is a revered author, lecturer and educator in the field of plastic and cosmetic surgery.

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