David B. Reath, MD
Knoxville, TN (865) 450-9253
HKB Knoxville Staff

4 Factors That Determine When Breast Implants Feel Normal

breast_implants_feel_NormalOne common question on the minds of women undergoing breast augmentation at my Knoxville, TN, practice is “When will my new breasts with implants feel normal?” I actually ask my patients in follow-up visits when they feel that their implants are a part of their body. This is the time when they stop thinking about them as new implants and start thinking about them as their breasts. There are a lot of factors that can impact this. And there is a certain psychological aspect as well, which deals with changes in body image and how quickly someone will adapt to this. But, since I am not a psychologist let me talk about some of the physical factors that can affect a patient’s adjustment.

1. Silicone vs. Saline
As silicone implants are inherently softer, they will tend to feel more “normal” sooner than saline. This is not to say that saline implants won’t feel normal, but it may take a little longer, especially if the implants are riding a bit high, as saline implants often do. The viscosity of the silicone implants is what really makes the difference, and I might venture to say that silicone implants will always feel more normal than saline implants. When you hold each implant in your hand, you can really appreciate the difference. This is why over 80% of my patients choose silicone.

2. Over the Muscle vs. Under the Muscle
Not everyone is a candidate to have implants placed on top of the chest muscle. But for those who have enough natural breast tissue to cover the implants and not require the muscle as soft tissue coverage, the implants will feel more normal sooner. This is because the muscle does not need to be stretched out. Also, you will be less aware of the implants when you contract your chest muscles if they are on top. Because when you do flex your pectoral muscles, they will slightly change the shape of the implant/breast as the muscle presses down on them. This goes away immediately when the muscle is relaxed and does not pose a long-term problem, but some women may notice this.

When I talk with patients about placing the implants on top of the muscle, many are surprised and thought that implants should always be sub-muscular. But when the balance is right between the amount of natural breast tissue, and the size of the breast implant (usually these will be silicone), this can be an excellent way to go, and sometimes gives the most natural results.

3. Smaller Implants vs. Larger Implants
The size of the implants also makes a difference. And, larger implants take longer to feel natural. In fact, overly large implants may never feel as natural as I would like them to, particularly in the case of saline. How large is too large? Well, that’s a tough question. But when we consult with people and work with sizers, we can find a good size that makes enough of a difference without going over the edge. There are, however, some women who want to go larger than I would recommend, and we always tell them that the implants will not feel (or look) as natural. But, then, this is what some women are going for.

4. Smaller Normal Breast Tissue vs. Larger Normal Breast Tissue
The amount of your natural breast tissue can also be a factor. With more tissue, the implants will be more quickly assimilated into the look and the feel of the breast. Breasts will feel more natural, sooner, going from a full B cup to a small D cup, than going from a small A cup to a small D cup. This again has to do with the amount of tissue covering the implant. As I tell women, if you have almost no breast tissue at all, it will be hard to make the augmented breast not look and feel somewhat like an implant. Still, this is better than being so small that clothing and bathing suit tops won’t fit.

All these things make a difference, and this is why it is difficult for anyone to give you an absolute of when things will feel normal or feel like a natural part of your body. The other thing that no one can control is how your body makes scar tissue, and how it makes the capsule around the implants. If your body makes thicker scars and a thicker capsule, it will take longer. But, if you were to pin me down on how long this whole process takes, I would give you a range of anywhere from 2 to 9 months until your breasts feel normal.

How can you affect this whole process?
Massage. Actively massaging your implants will help with the formation of a capsule that is soft and allows normal movement and a natural feel to your implants. If the implants are beneath the chest muscles, this will help the muscles relax and stretch out. So, really working with massage, especially early on when it may be uncomfortable, is important. Think of it as a short time discomfort for a long-term gain. (Healthline offers additional breast massage tips on its site.)
All the best,

David B.

If you want to learn more about breast augmentation, our staff has written an informative and entertaining eBook called A Girlfriend’s Guide to Breast Augmentation. Whether you’re from Cookeville or Knoxville, TN, or beyond, we’re happy to talk with you about your breast implant options. Contact us online or call us at (865) 450-9253 to schedule a consultation. Download Our Free E-Book! A Girlfriend's Guide to Breast Augmentation Download Now

15 Responses to 4 Factors That Determine When Breast Implants Feel Normal

  • Diane Zambrano says:

    Hi I was just wondering if any of you feel your implants moving around and I’m also able to feel the valve

  • David B. Reath, MD says:

    Dear Diane,
    Thanks for your question. It is not unusual to feel some movement of you breast implants. Women who are thin and have saline implants can sometimes feel the valve. That’s one of the advantages of silicone implants: there is no valve.
    All the best,
    David B.

  • clarissa says:

    I did my breast implants in may 4,2015 and it already been been 3 months n they don’t feel full…they feel saggy…should I give it time so they could get better

  • David B. Reath, MD says:

    Dear Clarissa,
    Thanks for your comment. In all likelihood your breasts will not feel more “full” as time goes on. It is possible that you need or may have needed, a breast lift in addition to implants.
    All the best,
    David B. Reath, MD

  • Celida says:

    Hello Dr. Reath,

    I used to be a 36 Full B. I decided to get silicone implants (36 Full D) on 7/20/2015. We are now in Mid-October. I have been told that my breasts feel hard. They do feel harder to me too. Its actually making me regret getting them done in the 1st place. Buyer’s Remorse! I feel like I do want to remove them so not to delay any more time in stretching my skin. I usually had some very tight skin on my chest. My question is, will skin shrink back to my normal pre-surgery size or in your experience, have you seen the skin stay as is and remain saggy? Your advice is greatly appreciated.

  • Diane Zambrano says:

    Hi Dr Reath,it’s been a year and three months since my breast augmentation, I had to have a second surgery 13 weeks after the first one because my left breast was slowly leaking and I felt something hard under the breast and it also hurt when I touched it there, I did not want high profile but the nurse and Dr kept insisting that it was better, the first implants we’re 500cc and the second implants we’re 600cc ,I know there is something wrong I still feel soreness and when I wear a underwe bra it feels so uncomfortable ,I really don’t know if I have the implants over the muscle or under, they just don’t feel right and my surgeon keeps telling me everything is ok

  • David B. Reath, MD says:

    Thank you for your email. I am sorry you are having difficulties. I cannot tell you what the issues are without seeing you and examining you. The person who is in the best position to now what is going on is the plastic surgeon who operated on you. The only thing I would say is that you do have large implants and these can sometimes have some issues due to their size and weight.
    I wish you all the best,
    David B. Reath, MD

  • Sue says:

    I had breast implants in 2005 and under the muscle. i have noticed over the past couple of months my breasts feel very soft, the implants have lost their firmness, although i prefer them to be like this as they appear and feel more natural, should there be cause for concern?
    thanks in advance of your response.

  • David B. Reath, MD says:

    Dear Sue,
    Thanks for your question. While I cannot tell you what is going on without seeing you, more than likely what is happening probably involves your breast tissue or the capsule around the implants. As long as the implants are intact, they really should not change themselves. So I suspect that there are not issues. However, if you have real concerns I would be examined by your plastic surgeon.
    All the best,
    David B. Reath, MD

  • Leah says:

    Hi Dr.Reath. I’m having my breast augmentation in about a week. I’m having second thoughts about which incision I should get. My friend got 350cc saline under the muscle nipple incision and she says she can feel the implant near the incision. Im confused as to how she can feel it if it’s under the muscle. Is this normal? I want to get the nipple incision but not if its going to cause me to be able to feel it.
    Thanks in advance!

  • David B. Reath, MD says:

    More than likely what your friend is feeling is the valve on the implant. This can occur even if the implants are under the muscle. Silicone implants have no valve and would avoid this issue.
    Best of luck,
    David B. Reath, MD

  • Lala says:

    Hi Dr,

    Can silicone implants under the muscle shift in different positions? or does the muscle keep them in place while healing? Also, do you recommend sleeping in an upward position for 6 weeks? I am 3 weeks post op and have been sleeping in this uncomfortable position since my procedure.


  • David B. Reath, MD says:

    Dear Lala,
    Thanks for your comment. The muscle does not really keep the implant in a certain position. Rather it helps with the shape of the breast. Implants can shift in position somewhat, but not a great deal (certainly in the short term).
    I do not require my patients to sleep upright for 6 weeks. However, you should check with your surgeon about this.
    All the best,
    David B. Reath, MD

  • Ann says:

    Dear Dr. Reath,

    I have visited your website several times as a I am interested in breast augmentation and a breast lift. I am 49 and very physically fit. I am considering the surgery because my breasts have shrunk due to exercise. I used to be a firm 36C and now my breasts to do not have any firmness or volume. I am concerned about scarring and them not feeling “real” to my husband. I do not want a major increase in size, just my original size and volume. I would appreciate any feedback you can offer.

  • David B, Reath, MD says:

    Dear Ann,
    What you will probably need is a breast lift and breast implants. In most women, the lift will involve an incision around the areola and one vertically down the bottom of the breast, like a lollipop. And I would definite recommend using silicone implants. These will feel the most natural. In terms of size, this is mostly up to you. Getting back to a reasonable size makes a lot of sense. You do not have to go very large in order to get a good result.
    All the best,
    David B. Reath, MD

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