Breast Implants

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Duke Health plastic surgeons insert breast implants to increase the size of your breasts. The cosmetic procedure can provide volume and contour to breasts whose appearance has changed due to pregnancy and childbirth, weight loss, age, or gravity. You may also consider what many call a “boob job” if you are unhappy with the size of your breasts, if they are not symmetrical, or because you desire gender-affirming top surgery. Breast implants restore a more youthful shape to your breasts, and can improve your self-confidence, your self-esteem, and your physical appearance.

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Types of Breast Implants

Breast implants are smooth, round artificial devices. Your plastic surgeon will explain the differences to you at your consultation and help you choose the implant that is right for you based on how you want to look and feel. 

Saline vs. Silicone Implants 

  • Silicone breast implants are placed in the breast already filled with an elastic gel. Some people believe they look and feel more like natural breasts. Silicone breast implants retain their shape after being cut, like a candy gummy bear. Regular screening (every 5 to 10 years) is recommended to detect possible leaks or ruptures. 
  • Saline implants are filled with sterile salt water after they are placed in the breast. They are typically less expensive than silicone implants and require smaller incisions. Leaks and ruptures aren’t an issue with saline implants because the saline is absorbed by the body without issue.
Our Locations

Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Pros and Cons of Breast Implant Surgery

Benefits of Breast Implant Surgery 

  • Improved appearance of your breasts due to changes following pregnancy or significant weight loss. 
  • Added fullness and volume to increase the size of small breasts. 
  • Makes uneven breasts more symmetrical. 
  • The creation of a feminine chest in people pursuing gender-affirming surgery. 
  • Breast implants may be combined with breast reconstruction following a mastectomy. 

Risks/Disadvantages of Breast Implant Surgery 

  • Breast implants won’t improve sagging breasts. A breast lift may be recommended to achieve that effect. 
  • You may experience changes in nipple placement and skin sensation. 
  • Implants last about 10 years. You may need additional surgery in the future to replace or remove the implants.
  • implants may make it more difficult to view mammography results. 
  • Implants may inhibit your ability to breastfeed. 
  • Regular screening is recommended to detect implants that harden, leak or rupture. 
  • Breast implant illnesses and related conditions may occur, including fatigue, breast pain, anxiety and depression, and hair loss. 
  • Poor scarring and/or formation of scar tissue can affect breast appearance.
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Consultation and Pre-Surgical Testing

What to Expect at Your First Consultation
When meeting for the first time, your plastic surgeon will discuss your reasons for pursuing breast implants, your desired outcome, and the expected results. We take time to understand your breast anatomy, skin elasticity, and body type. We conduct a thorough medical history, including your family history, general health status, previous operations, and any medications you may be taking. We examine your breasts and take measurements of their size, shape, the placement of your nipples and areolas. Photographs will be taken for your medical record. 

Personalized Treatment Recommendations
We complete the consultation with a personalized treatment recommendation that addresses your goals, types of breast implants, the potential risks and complications, and recovery. 

Breast Implant Cost
Breast implant is an elective, cosmetic procedure for healthy people that is not covered by insurance. The cost depends on which procedures you need to achieve your goals. Our financial counselor will help you understand your financial responsibility. 

Pre-Surgical Testing 
To ensure you are in optimal health for surgery, blood work will test your liver and kidney function and will determine if you have any infection, blood disorder, or anemia, that may have gone previously undetected. A mammogram may be recommended to detect underlying breast abnormalities.

Consistently Ranked Among the Nation’s Best Hospitals

Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why we are once again recognized as the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 11 adult and 10 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2024–2025.

Breast Implant Surgery and Recovery

Your plastic surgeon will make an incision under your breasts, arms, or around your nipple to insert the implant under your chest muscle or directly behind your breast tissue and over your chest muscle. These decisions are dependent on your breast anatomy, body, and skin type, and how much enlargement you want. The incision is closed with sutures. 

Recovery From Breast Implant Surgery
You will feel sore, swollen, and bruised immediately after your surgery and will continue to feel mild discomfort for the first week. You may be able to start light exercise after four weeks. You should be able to resume all your regular activities after six weeks.

This page was medically reviewed on 02/14/2024 by