One common questions on the minds of women undergoing breast enlargement at my Knoxville 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 this.
1. Silicone vs. Saline
As silicone implants are inherently softer, they will tend to feel more “normal” sooner that 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 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 are range of anywhere from two to nine 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 which 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.
All the best,
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