image showing the difference between breast implants and augmentation

What Is the Difference Between a Breast Augmentation and Breast Implants?

If you’re just beginning to explore your available options for breast augmentation, you may have already noticed that there is a vast amount of terminology involved with these procedures. At Southwest Michigan Plastic and Hand Surgery in Portage, MI, we believe it is important to make our patients feel comfortable by ensuring that the whole process surrounding any breast enhancement procedure is clearly understood.

What Is Breast Augmentation?

Breast augmentation is a cosmetic procedure in which breast implants are surgically implanted under the patient’s existing breast tissue. The procedure is also referred to as a breast enlargement, or breast enhancement, and is performed with the primary aim of creating fuller or larger breasts. Breast augmentation procedures are carried out for both cosmetic and reconstructive purposes.

There are several techniques that can be used in order to help you achieve the aesthetic you’re looking for. The majority involve the use of implants, or, in some cases, an autologous fat transfer from another part of your body can be used to create the desired results. Your surgeon will work with you to help you decide exactly which procedure will be best for you.

Augmentation procedures are typically sought by anybody looking to increase their natural breast size or to recover fullness lost after breastfeeding or after losing significant amounts of weight. Women who have undergone partial, full, or double mastectomies are also ideal candidates for enhancement surgery.

What Is a Breast Implant?

A breast implant is a prosthesis that is used in augmentation and reconstruction procedures to alter the size or change the shape of the natural breast. There are a few different materials used to fill breast implants, with the three most common being silicone, saline, and cohesive gel.


Silicone is widely regarded for its natural feel. It is tried and tested and offers great results for most women, particularly those starting with less breast tissue.


Saline implants are inserted empty and then filled, offering a solution to women looking to avoid larger incisions. Additionally, saline implants are the only FDA approved cosmetic breast prosthesis approved for use in patients under 22 years of age.

Cohesive Gel

Sometimes called ‘Gummy Bear’, cohesive gel implants make use of a thick, firm gel that resembles the feeling of gummy bears, hence the nickname. This forms a stable gel and offers excellent shape retention over a long period of time.

Which Type of Breast Implant Should I Choose?

Choosing the right breast implant for your augmentation procedure isn’t as straightforward as choosing a filling. In fact, you’ll also have to choose texture, profile, and shape, too. Some of these options are completely down to personal preference, although some choices will be limited by the physical attributes of each individual patient.

If you have a particular aesthetic in mind, it will be helpful if you can show your surgeon pictures from magazines that reflect how you’d like to look. If nothing springs to mind from magazines, your doctor should take the time to go through before and after pictures of his previous patients with you.

From there you should be able to set your goals, and that will help in delivering the best possible outcome. Based upon your discussions with the surgeon about how you’d like to look, the following options should then be considered:

Implant Texture

While you won’t actually be able to see or feel the texture of your implants post-surgery, the choice you make will have an impact on how your breasts feel. You will have the option of a smooth shell, or a textured one.

Smooth Shell Implants

Smooth shells are only used on round breast implants. They are thinner than textured implants and this usually results in softer, more natural feeling breasts.

Textured Shell Implants

Textured implant shells are much thicker than their smooth counterparts. This tends to result in a firmer feeling breast post-surgery. Because of their sturdy construction, textured shells can be used on both round and anatomical type implants.

Implant Shape

An important factor in how your breast augmentation will look after surgery is the shape of the implant. Patients usually have the choice between round or anatomical (sometimes known as teardrop) prosthesis. Both offer different aesthetics, so the option you choose is mostly down to how you’d like your breasts to look post-surgery.

Round Breast Implants

Round implants are effectively squashed spheroids. They are the most popular implant in breast augmentation procedures and can give wonderful results. They are a great choice for anybody looking for maximum fullness in the upper part of their breasts. Women in southwest Michigan enjoy improved lift and increased cleavage from round implants.

Because of the inherent stability of round breast implants, they can have either textured or smooth shells. This means you’ll be able to choose from a softer, more supple implant in the smooth shell, or a firmer, more shapely implant in the textured shell.

Anatomical Breast Implants

Anatomical breast implants have the rough shape of a teardrop – narrower at the top and contouring down into a full bottom half. They offer excellent projection, which is the distance that the breast extends from the chest wall, and are a great choice for those who desire a more natural look.

Because anatomical implants are shaped like natural breasts, they make a great choice for anybody who does not have a great deal of existing breast tissue prior to their augmentation.

Implant Size

An increase in breast size is what most women seek when they undergo an augmentation procedure. When choosing the right implants for your desired look, we recommend thinking about the following factors.

Keep Things Proportional

When you’re trying to choose the perfect size for your implants, first consider the areas of your body that will not be undergoing a transformation in order to better visualize the final look. Your body frame type, as well as height to weight ratio, and shoulder, waist, and hip measurements all come in to play.

Consider Your Wardrobe

Believe it or not, your fashion sense should also factor into your decision when it comes to the size of the implants you choose. If you tend to wear a lot of low cut clothing then a larger implant will definitely make you feel more confident in those outfits. On the other hand, if you tend to shy away from drawing attention to your breasts, a more conservative size increase might be advisable.

Think About Exercise

If you are an active individual, it is usually advisable to go with a smaller implant in order to help you maintain your lifestyle with minimal modification.

Bra Size Is Not the Answer

Remember, like all clothing, bra sizes differ slightly between manufacturers, so a 34 C in one brand might fit like a 32 D in another. It is OK to have a rough cup size in mind, but try not to focus too much on universal measurements.

Implant Size Is Universal

As we mentioned, bra sizes are not an appropriate way to measure a breast implant, however, the implants themselves can be universally measured. Implants are sized in cubic centimeters with the typical range being anywhere from 120cc to 850cc.

Talk With Your Surgeon

While ultimately, the final decision about your breast implant size rests with you, don’t be too quick to discount your surgeon’s advice, even if it isn’t quite what you want to hear. Carefully weigh any advice they give against your initial thoughts before reaching any firm decisions.

Other Breast Enhancement Procedure Considerations

As well as choosing the type of implants you want for your procedure, you’ll also have to give some thought to the procedure itself. Where do you want the incision to be? How would you prefer the implants to be placed?

Your choices will have an impact on the final appearance of your breasts, as well as your ability to breastfeed. Take the time to talk this through with your surgeon to ensure you not only get the look you desire but also to minimize interruption to your lifestyle.

Incision Site

The three most common incision sites during breast augmentation are the areola, the armpit, and the crease where the bottom of the breast meets the torso.

The choice of incision site is impacted by other elements of the implant choice, including the shape, texture, and size. The patient’s body frame will also influence the position of the incision site.

Placement of the Implants

As briefly mentioned above, the placement of the implants will have an impact on your lifestyle depending on which you choose. Women can opt to have their breast implants placed behind the pectoral muscle, or on top of the pectoral muscle but behind the breast gland. Both options have their own set of advantages and will appeal to different patients.

Submuscular implants are usually recommended for lean women with little body fat and breast tissue. Placing the implant behind the pectoral muscle will blend its appearance for a more natural look that camouflages the prosthesis.

Subglandular implants are more common than submuscular. This procedure offers a faster recovery time and tends to give a more lifted look.

Your Surgeon

Your choice of surgeon is also of the utmost importance, in fact, it is just as important a decision as to the choice of the implants themselves. Choosing a surgeon that will work with you to achieve your goals and desired aesthetic is critical.  

Your surgeon should be experienced enough to guide you through the process with ease, while still taking the time to listen to you. Dr. Elluru and the team at Southwest Michigan Plastic and Hand Surgery are dedicated to providing the very best patient care in the industry.

Who Makes a Good Candidate for Breast Augmentation?

The reasons for any one person to think about, and then follow through with a breast enhancement procedure are deeply personal. This surgery can truly change lives when done for the right reasons. If you’re seriously considering breast enlargement, you might be an ideal candidate if:

  • You are in good health
  • You are not currently breastfeeding
  • You are unhappy with the current appearance of your breasts
  • Your breasts are uneven or asymmetrical
  • Your breasts are completely developed
  • You are over the age of 18

This list is not exhaustive, and only after a detailed consultation with a board-approved surgeon can you be considered eligible for an augmentation procedure.

Achieve the Figure You Have Always Dreamed Of

The decision to proceed with a breast augmentation procedure is not one to be taken lightly. We advise all of our patients to research all they can. Being clear on your goals will go a long way to helping your cosmetic surgeon navigate you through the many decisions you’ll need to make on the road to your dream physique.

If you are ready to move on to the next step and learn more about your options for breast augmentation, we invite you to call us to set up your initial consultation with Dr. Elluru at Southwest Michigan Plastic and Hand Surgery in Portage, MI.


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