When the FDA approved the use of silicone implants as a safe alternative to saline implants in 2006, the move began a discussion on which implant type was superior. With the advantages and disadvantages of each type of implant, patients are given a choice as to which they would want to use for their breast augmentation.
No single implant type is better than the other. Saline and silicone implants each have the qualities that make them ideal for the anatomy, needs, and desires of women. However, with its increasing popularity alongside its approval for sale and use, silicone implants became the preferred type of implant by plastic surgeons and patients alike.
Silicone Implants and Weight
Silicone implants, as opposed to saline implants, are filled with a thick and viscous silicone gel enclosed in an outer shell. For many, because the gel appears to be denser than the saline (salt) solution, silicone implants seem to be heavier.
Commonly, patients ask the weight of silicone implants and whether it adds extra weight to their body. It’s generally a reasonable inquiry since breast implants do have weight and any additional load after breast augmentation means discomfort instead of a satisfying and complication-free outcome.
So, will silicone implants add to your body weight?
A simple answer to this question is yes. However, the added weight will be negligible.
How to Determine the Weight Silicone Implants Add to Overall Body Weight
Generally, the volume – not its type – dictates the weight of an implant. Implant volume is measured in cc (cubic centimeter), wherein a given number of cc is equivalent to the number of grams. So, a 400 cc breast implant would weight about 400 grams.
In calculating how much weight silicone implants add to your total body weight after breast augmentation, we must consider the specific gravity of the implant fill. Specific gravity refers to the density of a substance against a density standard that is usually water (for any liquid substances) or solid materials.
Saline solution has a specific gravity of 1.0 g/cc while that of silicone is 0.97 g/cc. To get the weight that silicone implants will add to your overall body weight, you need to:
- Multiply the volume of the implants (in cc) by the specific gravity of the silicone gel
- Divide the answer by 454 grams to convert the weight to pounds
Let’s say, you plan to get a 350 cc silicone implants:
- 350 cc x 0.97 g/cc = 339.5 g (round off to 340 g)
- 340 g x 2 = 680 g for two silicone implants
- 680 g/ 454 g= 1. 49 lb.
For two silicone implants, an estimate of 1.49 pounds adds to your weight. This is a relatively small amount of weight that would contribute minimal heaviness to your overall body weight. Also, manufacturers of silicone implants exclude the weight of the implant shell before filling. Therefore, most of the additional mass comes from the silicone gel only.
Bigger and Heavier Implants: Is it Really Better?
With the various breast implant options available to women, it is becoming more challenging to select the appropriate implant size for breast augmentation. Despite different methods to determine the correct size, the following reasons influence women to go for bigger implants:
- Recommended or advised by friends and colleagues
- A different body frame from a typical breast augmentation patient (e.g., bodybuilders and fitness competitors)
- Improvement of body image and confidence
- Post-mastectomy breast reconstructive surgery
Breast implant size can range from 150 ccs to 700 ccs, where implants with a 350 cc fill are deemed as a large breast implant. Manufacturers sometimes can even customize silicone implants up to 800 ccs (950 ccs for saline implants), depending on the desire of the patient. However, most plastic surgeons do not advise using bigger and heavier implants than necessary for several reasons, which include:
- Breasts could sag and may require additional surgery like breast lift to correct
- It restricts athletic and recreational activity
- Neck, shoulder, and back pain may occur in the long run
- Breasts could become disproportionate due to the weight of the implant
- Post-operative problems could arise such as:
- Implant visibility and rippling
- Loss of the natural space between breasts resulting in symmastia or uniboob
- Implant malposition or the implants may become too high or too low after surgery
- Breast tissue compression that may lead to atrophy of the natural breast tissues
- Breast ptosis and thinning of breast skin
- Loss of nipple sensation
When the need calls for it, plastic surgeons opt to choose bigger or heavier implants during breast reconstruction surgery. They may also allow the use of bigger implants in patients who previously had breast implants already. Plastic surgeons are careful to evaluate the patient’s natural breast tissues, breast size, and even the degree of sagging along with their weight and height before they give full consent to use larger and heavier implants.
Strike A Balance Between Appropriately-sized Breast Implants and Your Goals and Desires
With numerous implant options now available, it can become difficult for women to arrive at the suitable implant size and type for their body, mainly because they also have to consider their anatomy. This is where your board-certified plastic surgeon plays a crucial role in narrowing down your implant choices. Their expert knowledge and training in assessing and developing breast augmentation protocols can help you arrive at the appropriate and proportional breast implant size.
There is nothing wrong with having a substantial increase in breast size by going for bigger and heavier implants. But to maintain a satisfactory and problem-free post-augmentation outcome, it is best to strike a balance between your goals and an implant size that is suitable for your body.