As its name suggests, the primary aim of breast augmentation surgery is to increase the bust size using either saline or silicone implants. In the US, only Allergan and Mentor are allowed by the Food and Drug Administration to sell these products to the market.
One of the most common concerns of patients considering breast augmentation is stretch mark, which happens when the skin tissue is stretched to its limit, resulting to purplish, reddish, or whitish stripes. This often occurs after a significant weight gain/lose and pregnancy.
In some cases, breastimplants can cause stretch marks although a patient’s predisposition to have them depends on many factors including the implant size. The rule of thumb is that the larger the device is, the higher the risk of developing the whitish or purplish stripes on the skin.
One effective way to lower the chance of having stretch marks after breast augmentation surgery is to use smaller implants. Most plastic surgeons will likely agree that a 300 to 350 cubic centimeter (cc) range is a reasonable size.
By contrast, breast implants that come in 500cc size and above are often considered relatively large especially if these are going to be used on petite patients.
Aside from large breast implants, the age also seems to affect the likelihood of developing stretch marks. According to some surveys, the problem is more common on younger women (those who are in their 20s and younger) than adult patients.
Plastic surgeons have also noticed that placing the implants on top of the muscle (subglandular technique) can increase the risk of stretch marks than positioning the devices below the muscle (submuscular technique).
Perhaps the reason why the subglandular implant placement increases the risk of stretch marks is that only the skin and tissue provide support to the weight of the device. On the other hand, the submuscular technique offers more coverage and support to the implant, preventing the skin from stretching too much.
Also, most patients who developed stretch marks after breast augmentation have previously experienced the problem, although choosing a reasonable implant size and using the proper implant placement can reduce their risk.
By contrast, it is very unlikely for patients who have not experienced stretch marks to have the problem after breast augmentation surgery.
Fortunately, most patients who have developed stretch marks after breast augmentation reported that the purplish stripes turned white and became barely noticeable within three to four months.