Woman holding silicone implants for breast augmentation on color background, space for text. Cosmetic surgery

Breast Augmentation Scars: What Will Yours Look Like?

Surgeries

Breast implants are a super-popular cosmetic procedure with around 300,000 cases performed yearly in the USA alone. One of the primary attractions of breast augmentation surgery is that scars from breast implants are generally minimal. In this article, we’ll cover all the factors that could contribute to the final quality of your breast augmentation scars.

Types Of Scars From Breast Augmentation:

To understand the range of possibilities when it comes to scars from breast implants, it’s worthwhile to first look at the four types of scars that can form from any type of surgery:

Type Of ScarWhat They Look LikeExample
normal/maturefine, flat and blend well “good scars”Normal breast implant scar that is fine and flat
hypertrophicraised, red and thicker type of scar
keloidconsidered the worst scars extensively raised, thick, discolored; grow far outside the area of the injury to the skinKeloid skin scar that is very raised thick red and raised
widespreadflat, pale, wide, and stretched scarsA wide flat stretched skin scar

How Will Your Scars From Breast Implants Look?

As with any surgical procedure, it’s not possible to predict exact scar quality for any individual patient. Factors that contribute to breast augmentation scar quality include:

  1. a person’s natural healing tendencies
  2. type of implant (silicone versus saline)
  3. implant size
  4. incision placement
  5. surgeon selection
  6. after-care

1. People Heal Breast Augmentation Scars Differently

Skin tone, general health, smoking, and many other variables contribute to any person’s natural scarring likelihoods. People who have already formed poor scars can be more likely to form others. Even a family history of thick scarring needs to be taken into account because scar quality has a genetic component.

2. Silicone Versus Saline

The length of breast implant scars depends, in part, on the type of implant used. Saline implants generally need smaller incision sizes. This is because silicone implants come out of the box inflated, while saline implants are supplied empty. This means that saline implants can be rolled up into very narrow tubes by the surgeon and inserted through small incisions. The implant is inflated with saline once it’s inside the body. Silicone implants need to be inserted pre-filled and therefore usually need a longer incision, and leaving longer scars from breast augmentation.

Silicone gel type of breast implant
Silicone gel breast implants are pre-filled out of the box (©ScarScore Inc. All rights reserved)
Saline breast implant
Saline breast implants are supplied empty (©ScarScore Inc. All rights reserved)

The Keller Funnel

A relatively new device used in silicone gel breast augmentation is the Keller Funnel. This simple product allows the surgeon to insert pre-filled silicone gel implants through smaller incisions and might also help prevent capsular contracture (breast hardening). If you’re thinking about using silicone gel implants, ask your surgeon if she or he plans on using the Keller Funnel. This video by Dr. Johnny Franco shows how the Keller Funnel works (Warning: Graphic Medical Content)

3. Implant Size Affects Scars From Breast Implants

Implant size can affect breast implants scars in a number of ways. For example, choosing very large implants can:

  • make the incision closure very tight which can negatively impact scars from breast augmentation
  • require larger incision sizes, especially for silicone implants
  • weigh more leading to earlier breast drooping and possibly widespread scarring
Wide stretched breast augmentation scar at bottom of areola
Widespread scars like this can result from choosing very large implants
(© ScarScore Inc.)

OVER-SIZED IMPLANTS CAN HAVE A NEGATIVE IMPACT ON BREAST IMPLANTS SCAR QUALITY

4. Breast Augmentation Incision Placement

Breast implant scars can be placed in four locations: breast crease, lower areola, axilla, and belly button.

Breast Implants Scars In The Breast Crease

An incision in the breast crease (lower breast fold) is a popular approach to breast augmentation surgery. This approach is also called the inframammary fold (IMF) technique. A breast implant scar in the breast crease has several advantages:

  • provides the surgeon excellent visibility when creating the breast pocket to:
    • position the breast implant precisely
    • stop bleeding when encountered
  • best for larger size silicone implants
  • has the lowest rate of capsular contracture (breast hardening)

Disadvantages of breast implants scars in the fold include:

  • can show when wearing skimpier bikini and bra styles
  • creates breasts implants scars on the breast itself
  • darker scars may not blend well with breast skin tone
Image showing breast implants scar location in breast crease
Location of breast implant scar in breast crease
Normal good quality breast implants scar in breast fold
Normal scar in breast crease

Breast Implant Scar Around The Areola

These incisions are placed around the bottom edge of the areola from around the 4 to 8 o’clock positions. Advantages of a breast implants scar in this location include:

  • the darker color of the areolar skin helps camouflage the scar.
  • can be used to reduce the areola size as part of the procedure when desired

Scars from breast augmentation around the areolar have some disadvantages as well:

  • increased risk of temporary or permanent loss of sensation of the nipple and areola
  • increased chance to interfere with future breast-feeding
  • larger silicone implants may not “fit” through this incision
  • may have a higher risk of capsular contracture compared to crease incisions
Image showing breast augmentation scar location around areola
Location of breast implants scar on areola

Breast Implants Scars In The Axilla

Scars from breast augmentation can also be made in the axilla (armpit). This is often referred to as the “trans-axillary approach. The primary advantage of this breast implant scar is that the incision is not made on the breast at all and is concealed in the armpit. Disadvantages of this approach are:

Image showing breast augmentation scar location in axilla
Breast implant scar placement in the axilla
This axillary breast implants scar is well healed and hard to detect (©ScarScore Inc.)

Breast Implants Scars In The Belly Button

This technique is referred to as the trans-ubilical breast augmentation (TUBA) approach and places breast augmentation scars on the inner surface of the belly button. It’s the least commonly used technique. Potential advantages of breast implant scars in the umbilicus include:

  • no scars on the breast itself
  • very well hidden scar
  • one breast augmentation scar for both implants

Significant problems with TUBA that has limited its use are:

  • only can be used for saline implants
  • high rates of poorly positioned implants and asymmetry
  • difficulty controlling bleeding that can lead to hematoma (blood collecting around the implant)
Image showing breast augmentation scar location in umbilicus

YOUR PERSONAL HEALING TENDENCIES ALWAYS PLAY A ROLE IN FINAL SCAR QUALITY

6. Surgeon Selection:

Always choose a board-certified surgeon to perform you procedure. Doing so will give you a head start towards healing with excellent scars. No surgeon can completely control how any individual patient scars from breast augmentation surgery. But, reputable cosmetic surgeons will perform breast implants with the skill and expertise that gives your body the best chance to heal with high quality scars.

7. After-Care For Your Scars From Breast Implants

A smooth, complication-free healing process plays a critical role in determining final breast implant scar quality. Cosmetic surgeons have their own protocols for after-care and wound care, but some common-sense pieces of advice include:

  • follow post-operative instructions to a tee
  • wear supportive bras as per your surgeon’s instructions
  • don’t return to work or the gym early
  • use sunscreen on healed incisions (UV rays can penetrate certain fabrics)
  • consider use of silicone gel for scars or silicone strips especially if you may have a tendency for thick scarring

For a comprehensive guide to different types of scars and how to prevent poor outcomes, take a look at our article on the topic.

Conclusion:

Scars from tummy tucks are relatively lengthy compared to many other cosmetic surgeries. This can be a cause for concern and hesitation for some people despite the wonders the procedure can do to rejuvenate the mid-sections. Keep in mind that incision length is only one factor when it comes to tummy tuck scars. The others are the quality and type of scars formed after patients undergo tummy tucks. Scars can’t be predicted with certainty. A large number of factors such as which technique is used, incision location, surgeon selection, and after-care all play roles in determining final scar quality.

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