French slope, ski jump, full and voluptuous or bolt-ons? Breast augmentation results are often spoken about in terms of size, but the desired profile of a breast is equally as important to consider when selecting your implants.
During the planning stage of your augmentation, your plastic surgeon will take into account the shape of your existing chest anatomy, as well as your overall body type and height.
A patient who is slim and long is usually best suited to a proportionate breast enlargement that compliments her elongated look. Conversely, a shorter statured woman might find that widening the upper chest with implants that add too much volume to the sides of the body, exaggerates her short appearance.
Breast augmentation surgery should do more than create beautiful, big breasts, it should compliment and enhance, creating an overall improvement to the shape of the body.
When patients visit Dr Sharp’s Brisbane and Ipswich clinics for breast augmentation consultations, one of the first things he seeks to learn from them is what shape they desire; a very natural size, projection and profile - or a breast that appears very full, or even round. Along with their body shape, this forms the basis of his surgical plan.
“Different implants can produce a natural look, a round appearance - or something in between - based on the implant choice and surgical technique,” Dr Sharp says.
The two key considerations Dr Sharp makes when selecting an implant with his patients takes into account:
Your natural breast anatomy
Little differences you might not notice; like a shorter nipple-to-breast-fold distance, asymmetry or a lack of upper breast tissue can direct implant selection and placement. The quantity and location of pre existing breast tissue, as well as your chest wall width and torso height are also factored. Your surgeon will measure the distance between landmarks of your anatomy, such as your nipples, navel and collarbone.
Your desired breast shape
Do you like lots of upper pole fullness, or do you prefer the flatter, more natural ski-jump like shape - also sometimes known as the ‘French’ look? Is cleavage or side boob important? These are also important considerations to make when choosing your ideal implant.
Breast augmentation goals: profile, shape and size
Forget about comparing implant size: the exact same implants can look totally different on on two different women!
Implants are placed under breast tissue (subglandular) or the pectoral muscle (submuscular). This determination may be based on the amount of natural breast tissue a woman has and the size of the implant. Most surgeons refer to ‘dual plane‘ when determining breast implant placement. This modern augmentation technique involves placing the implant underneath the pectoral muscle, with the muscle releases sequentially to a more advanced degree. Dual plane placement enables the surgeon to raise the pectoral muscle slightly upward, giving the lower part of breast tissue contact with the breast implant. This technique is especially effective on selective patients that have some degree of breast ptosis or slightly droopy breasts. Your surgeon will be your best resource in determining the right implants and placement for you. The below images show a range of natural breasts and the end results they have achieved through breast augmentation surgery with Dr Sharp, through the selection of different implants. Observe the slope of the upper pole of the breast and the fullness of the lower pole. Each one has a different starting point and desired result.
When looking at the breast from the side, a line can be drawn between the upper pole and the lower pole (see right). The breast slope runs down the upper pole, and end at the top of the lower pole. In a natural appearing breast, the slope is either straight or concave.
In general, when a breast implant is placed in an anatomically normal breast, the plastic surgeon can either maintain a natural straight slope, or a rounder projecting curve can be created in the upper pole of the slope.
Your natural breast tissue, along with what your plastic surgeon does to create the pocket for the implant - and what type of implant is inserted - will determine this shape.
A natural breast shape is like a teardrop also known as a ‘ski jump’ or ‘French slope’ - with most of the fullness in the lower half of the breast. When we talk about upper pole, we are referring to the breast fullness above the nipple. When we talk about lower pole, we mean how full the breast is below the nipple.
Upper pole goals:
Whatever implants and implant placement you opt for, you will have some temporary upper pole fullness right after surgery. This is especially so with implants placed under the muscle as they tighten after surgery and move your implants higher up on your chest. It’s why your surgeon will impress upon you pre operatively, the importance of being patient during the recovery period. When post operative swelling goes down and your tissues relax with the drop and fluff process, the upper pole you’re left with will depend on a few things, including:
Size - larger and bigger implants (cc’s) generally give more upper pole fullness
Width - the wider the implant, the more likely it is to reach and fully fill the upper pole
Profile - higher profile and ultra (or extra high) profile implants give the best chance of upper pole fullness
Cohesive silicone gel - the material of a cohesive silicone implant is made specifically so it keeps its shape
If you are aiming for an obviously augmented look (round, high and fuller) be sure to communicate this to your plastic surgeon. There’s no guarantee though that you’ll get prominent upper pole. You will, in some part, be limited by your existing anatomy.
Lower pole goals
One of the most important parts of a breast augmentation can be the aspect only a few people ever see; lower pole fullness. This is especially true if you’re starting with deflated breasts after breastfeeding or weight loss. A round implant will generally give you upper and lower pole fullness, but if you are looking for a naturally beautiful breast shape, where there’s more lower fullness than upper - an anatomical implant could be recommended. If you have very mild breast sagging, a well chosen implant can provide a mini lift, providing support for the nipple and raising its projection.
Whatever look you’ve opted for, don’t assess your outcome until at least 6 months after surgery; anatomical and textured implants can take even longer. By this point you should be about 90% there with the settling and softening and you’ll know what your new breast shape is.
The best way to get what you want out of your breast augmentation journey is to pick an experienced specialist plastic surgeon, to express your goals clearly and to ensure you have realistic expectations.
Different breast implants can be used to achieve varying breast profiles:
Breast implants have a flat base and a curved outer surface. When the implants are laying on a flat surface, the amount of height that the outer curved surface has is called the implants projection. Round implants come in four basic types of projection or profile: low, moderate, high and very high.
When the patient and implant are upright, the volume of the implant flows to the bottom of the implant. This makes the implant have a more teardrop appearance. This varies somewhat with the different profiles. Low profile implants tend to produce the most natural teardrop appearance. Moderate profile implants can also produce a natural appearance with more projection to the breast. High profile and very high profile implants produce less of a teardropped shape and more of a round shape with more fullness in the upper pole of the breast.
Round breast implants
- More upper breast fullness
- Are sometimes the preferred shape to restore upper breast volume lost through breast-feeding or weight loss
- Being perfectly round, implant rotation cannot produce any deformity of breast shape
Anatomical (tear drop) breast implants
- More fullness in the lower half that tapers off towards the top
- An attractive and natural straight line drape of skin from collarbone down to nipple
Breast implant profile options
Low profile breast implant: the low profile implant shell is wider (larger diameter) and flatter (less height or depth) than moderate profile breast implants. This implant style is commonly used for women who have a wide broad chest frame. The extra width of the implant shell will fill the chest anatomy correctly, achieving a natural look and realistic cleavage. The implant will not project as far off the body as other implant styles, creating a subtly enhanced look. The main criteria used to select low profile implants are the base diameter of the breast and dimensions of the chest; the implant should be smaller than the base diameter of the natural breast mound, which is often substantial in wider framed women.
Moderate breast implant profiles: the low profile implant shell is wider (larger diameter) and flatter (less height or depth) than moderate profile breast implants. This implant style is commonly used for women who have a wide broad chest frame. The extra width of the implant shell will fill the chest anatomy correctly. The result, achieving a natural look and realistic cleavage. The implant will not project as far off the body as other implant styles,. This makes it the right choice for women who want fullness, but not an overly round and obviously enhanced look. The main criteria used to select low profile implants are the base diameter of the breast and dimensions of the chest. The implant should be smaller than the base diameter of the natural breast mound, which is often substantial in wider-framed women. This is one of the most commonly used profiles.
Moderate plus breast implant profiles: moderate plus implants are a half step compromise between traditional moderate profile implants and popular new high profile implants. The moderate plus profile is a popular choice among women who want a bit more projection than is typically provided by a moderate profile, but not as much projection as is found with the high profile shell.
High breast implant profiles: high profile implants project the further off the chest wall when compared to other common implant profiles. The high profile implant will achieve this projection by having a smaller base diameter than an identically sized (in cc’s) moderate or low profile implant shell. By decreasing the diameter of the shell - but keeping the same fill volume - the implant manufacturer is able to increase the depth or forward projection.
High profile implants are usually for women with a narrower chest frame who still want a considerable size increase during their breast augmentation surgery. Instead of using a wider base diameter moderate implant, the plastic surgeon will choose a narrower high profile shell which will suit the patient’s anatomy and project out to accommodate the volume of the filler material. This modified mastopexy, like many breast lift operations, sometimes squares off the breast shape slightly, making it appear wider and less round. The shape of the high profile implant shell restores the rounded shape of the breast, while still allowing the considerable benefits of the mastopexy lift.
Ultra high breast implant profiles: ultra high profile implants provides the narrowest base and highest projection for women with a narrower chest frame who still want a considerable size increase. Instead of using a wider base diameter implant, the plastic surgeon may choose the ultra high profile breast implant. This may suit the patient’s anatomy and project out to be able to accommodate the volume of the filler material.
There are two ways to increase projection in an implant. The first way is to add more volume to the implant. The other way to add projection is to make the base (diameter) of the implant smaller. Therefore, for any given volume, a smaller base has more projection. This is what ‘high profile’ implants do; they have a smaller diameter with a higher projection.
Breast implant inspiration: should I bring photos to my consultation?
Yes….but! One of the most challenging and exciting parts about considering a breast augmentation is looking at breast implant inspiration photos - also referred to as “Wish Boobs” or “Boob Goals.” Remember that when you’re looking through breast augmentation inspiration photos, it’s important to keep your expectations realistic when it comes to your own breast surgery.
Dr Sharp’s approach to augmentation surgery uses breast implant as the basis of your augmentation and often enhances the results with fat grafting. Small amounts of thigh or abdominal fat are transferred to your breast, to soften the transition between implant and body - and sometimes, to enhance cleavage. This is also known as the blended breast augmentation.
Ultimately, the implant you choose - and the type of breast profile you prefer - is a personal and intimate decision that should not be impacted by anyone else’s opinion or expectations. Conforming your body to a trend or another person’s opinion might leave you feeling dissatisfied with your appearance in the long run, so choose a breast profile that appeals to you.
Remember that the ageing process, as well as weight fluctuations and breastfeeding, will alter your breast profile over the years, so what it looks like now won’t be reflective of what it will look like in 10 or 20 years!