Are Small Implants the Next Big Thing?

Smaller Breast Implants

Breast augmentation is perennially one of the top 2 cosmetic procedures performed in North America, alongside liposuction. And while breast augmentation continues to be big, results might be getting a little smaller, in a manner of speaking.

Hundreds of thousands of women get breast augmentation each year, but they’re doing it in less obvious, more natural-looking ways than they have in the past. When women undergo breast augmentation, they seem to be choosing smaller implants than they used to, according to an ABC News report that particularly highlighted patients in the trendsetting New York and Los Angeles markets. Of course, this trend may take a while to catch on in other areas.

Additionally, according to an article by Allure magazine contributor Joan Kron, women are also choosing smaller breast implants when they trade their old implants for new ones (a common procedure called breast revision). It makes sense if you think about it. A woman in her 30s may have grown tired of the large breasts that she chose in her 20s.

One reason women might be going smaller is that the newer breast implants are very durable. When a woman is making a decision about the size of her implants, she understands that she may have to live with the results for a decade or more. Will you really want to be a DD when you’re a grandmother? It’s possible that this longevity has influenced women to be more conservative when choosing implants.

In the past few years, “anatomical” breast implants have grown widely in popularity, which also supports the trend toward a natural result. These implants are shaped like a teardrop, with more volume at the bottom to mimic the shape of a natural breast. They produce more subtle results than the traditional round implants, which provide more cleavage.

There’s also more variety in shape than ever before, even beyond the round vs. anatomical factor. Thanks to a recent wave of approvals by Health Canada and the FDA in the U.S., breast implants are available in a seemingly endless combination of sizes, shapes, and “projections.” The projection factor has to do with the width of the implant compared with how far it projects from the body. Whereas there used to be relatively few choices for these factors, there are now many options to help women customize their results so they look totally natural based on their body shapes.

According to the website of plastic surgeon Dr. Marc DuPéré, who specializes in various body implants and breast augmentation in Toronto, there are a number of aesthetic factors that are key for making “breasts look naturally beautiful,” and those include implants matching the width of the existing breast and also not being too large for the woman’s frame. In recent years at his practice, he wrote on his blog, his patients have been specifically asking for these kinds of results. (“Canadian women tend to favour moderation,” he says.)

Additionally, there is the factor of how the implants feel. Silicone is now the preferred material for breast implants, because it both looks and feels more natural than saline. Silicone and saline numbers were about even a few years ago, but silicone was used in 77% of breast augmentation surgeries in 2014 in the U.S., the ASPS reported.

Another trend toward natural results is women opting to not use implants at all for their procedures. Surgeons can now use fat grafting to harvest fat from an area of the body where it is unwanted and place it in the breasts to boost size and enhance shape. Researchers are still refining the techniques for that process, which can enlarge the breasts by only about 1 cup size at this point, but interest seems to be growing steadily thanks to the permanent, natural results of the treatment. Some surgeons believe it may undercut the implant market somewhat in years to come.

Breast augmentation is undergoing some fundamental shifts in North America these days, but it’s not exactly deflating. It’s probably more accurate to say that it’s simply changing shape.

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