glossary

Aug 09, 2012

Bottoming Out:

A breast implant complication that occurs when the breast implant(s) slips below the natural, or surgically lowered, inframammary fold.  Bottoming out may occur if the pocket within your breast where the implant is placed is too big or over-dissected. It can also occur if your implant is too big relative to the amount of skin and underlying breast tissue. Revision breast surgery is typically the only way to correct bottoming out.

Breast Augmentation:  

A surgical procedure to increase the size of the breasts. Breast augmentation does not correct sagging or ptotic breasts.

Breast Implants:

Saline or silicone-gel filled prostheses used to augment the breasts. Implants can be used for cosmetic purposes or for reconstruction after breast cancer or trauma.

Breast Lift with Implants:

A breast lift raises saggy or ptotic breasts. It can be combined with breast implants to increase the size of the breasts.

Breast Lift without Implants:  

A breast lift raises saggy or ptotic breasts. It can be performed on its own or with breast implants depending on your aesthetic goals.

Breast Reconstruction with Implants:  

Breast reconstruction is performed after surgery to remove one or both breasts. Breast implants can be used to recreate the breasts. Some women undergo mastectomy to remove breast cancer, while others undergo prophylactic mastectomy to lower their risk of developing breast cancer in the future. Breast implants can be used in either case.

Breast Reconstruction without Implants:  

Breast reconstruction is performed after surgery to remove one or both breasts. Breast reconstruction can be performed using a woman’s own body tissue instead of implants. This is done via a flap procedure during which a surgeon takes healthy tissue from one area of the body and uses it to recreate the breasts.

Capsular Contracture:  

A breast implant complication that occurs when scar tissue forms around the implant.  Capsular contracture can occur immediately after breast surgery or years down the road.  It is considered one of the most vexing complications of breast implant surgery because no-one knows precisely why it occurs and in whom. The good news is that there are more treatments today than ever before to treat capsular contracture. Options include squeezing the breast and implant to break up the capsule, lancing the contracted tissue to loosen it and break it apart and/or steroid injections and vitamin E therapy. Revision surgery is sometimes needed.

CC's:

Cubic centimeters. Breast implants are measured in cubic centimeters or cc’s. Your surgeon will speak in cc’s when discussing the size of your breast implants.  This is likely a new vocabulary for you. A good starting point is to remember that there are 30 cc's to an ounce, so 10 oz is 300 cc's.

Fat Transfer:

This procedure involves taking fat from a part of the body where it is plentiful, purifying it, and then re-injecting it into a body part where it is lacking, such as the breasts. Once controversial, fat grafting to the breast is often used to treat implant-related complications such as wrinkling or dimpling. It can also be used following breast reconstruction to enhance the appearance of the breasts. Fat grafting to the breast is not recommended as a standalone cosmetic procedure at this time.

Gel:

Some breast implants are filled with silicone gel. The consistency may differ among fills. All silicone gel is cohesive, but the newest silicone gel-filled “gummy bear” breast implants tend to be more cohesive or form-stable.

Hematoma:

A break in the blood vessels. It may cause bruising and/or a blood clot. This may occur after breast augmentation, but is usually treated with rest and ice.

Inframammary Fold:

The fold line just under your natural or enhanced breasts.

Mammography Interference:

Obscuring of an image on a breast x-ray. Breast implants can obscure images on a mammogram. This can result in delayed diagnosis of breast cancer. Surgeons usually advise women to get a baseline mammogram before their breast augmentation procedure. In addition, radiologists often take extra images of women who have breast implants during mammography. It is important that your radiologist and technician know that you have breast implants, and that you choose an imaging facility with experience taking care of women who have breast implants. Your plastic surgeon can likely recommend such a facility.

Necrosis:

Necrosis, or tissue death, can occur around a breast implant, often as a result of an infection or an injury. Necrosis is uncommon, but when it does occur, it can interfere with incision healing and leave large, unsightly scars. Smoking increases risk for necrosis. After surgery, follow your surgeon's instructions for wound care and take antibiotics as directed to prevent infection. If you notice any signs of infection, such as unusual pain, redness or foul drainage, contact your surgeon immediately.

Peri-Areolar:

An incision pattern used during breast augmentation.  A periareolar incision runs along the outside of the areola (brown or pink pigmented region surrounding the nipple). Choosing an incision pattern is one of the decisions you must make, together with your plastic surgeon, when planning your breast augmentation surgery. There are pros and cons to each of the possible incision patterns.

Revision:

Secondary surgery often conducted to correct or tweak results from the initial surgery. Revision surgery can help treat complications of breast augmentation surgery. Implants were not meant to last forever, so a secondary surgery may be needed even if no complications occur. 

Rupture:

A tear or leak in a breast implant. If you develop a tear or leak, the implants will need to be removed. It is immediately apparent if a saline implant ruptures. Leaks in silicone-filled breast implants are slow and may not have symptoms attached to them.  This is why the FDA recommends that women with silicone breast implants get a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan every two years, starting two years after the initial surgery. 

Saline:

Salt water. Some breast implant shells are filled with a saline solution, as opposed to a silicone gel.  There are advantages and disadvantages associated with each type of implant fill. Both are safe. Your board-certified plastic surgeon should discuss your options with you during your consultation.

Silicon:  

The chemical element that gives rise to the silicone gel used to fill certain breast implants.

Seroma:  

A collection of fluid underneath the skin. This may occur after breast augmentation. Treatment depends on the size and symptoms associated with the seroma.  Some may cause pain and swelling. In these cases, your surgeon may need to drain the fluid.

Symmastia:

A breast implant complication that is often referred to as uni-boob. Symmastia, or synmastia, occurs when your two breast implants touch each in the middle of your chest because your implant pockets are too close together. This may be done to create more cleavage. This complication will surface soon after your surgery, and can only be corrected with revision breast surgery.

Traction Rippling:  

There are two main types of rippling that can occur after breast implant surgery. Traction rippling happens when there is too much weight on the breast tissue. This may occur if the implant is too big for the breast. Traction rippling predominantly occurs with textured implants.

Transaxillary:

An incision pattern used during breast augmentation.  A transaxillary incision is made inside the armpit. Together with your surgeon, you must choose the most appropriate incision pattern for your breast augmentation surgery.

TUBA:

This is an acronym for transumbilical breast augmentation also known as “belly button” breast implant surgery. Considered scarless, TUBA is done through incisions hidden within the belly button. Choosing an incision pattern is one of the decisions you must make with your plastic surgeon when planning for your breast augmentation surgery. Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.