A breast augmentation is a surgical procedure that involves placing implants in the breast to increase their size and projection. Breast augmentation is performed on women who desire larger breasts or who have lost volume in their breasts due to weight loss or pregnancy.
Plastic surgeons use both saline and silicone gel breast implants, which are inserted through either a nipple incision or a less intrusive incision beneath the breast. A common complication of breast augmentation is capsular contracture, which causes painful scar tissue around an implant. Other complications include asymmetry and nipple retraction, which can be corrected with revision surgery.
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Best plastic surgeon denver breast augmentation
When considering plastic surgery like breast augmentation, liposuction, or a facelift, naturally you search for the best plastic surgeon. If you’re like most Denver women and men, you talk to others who have had surgery, you research physicians on the Internet, and, when you’re ready, you begin setting up consultations with a chosen few.
Don’t stop there. It’s critical to give yourself the tools that will enable you to truly understand the background of a prospective surgeon. Why? Today, there’s no requirement that cosmetic surgery is performed by a doctor who’s actually trained in the discipline. In fact, cosmetic procedures of all kinds are offered by current and former dermatologists, gynecologists, and physicians trained in other fields.
If you’re not careful, you could find yourself being operated on by someone who has had no formal education in plastic surgery and no requirement to prove their knowledge and skill in exams and peer reviews. But, with just a small investment of time to learn a few basics, you’ll be in a great position to choose a surgeon who will deliver beautiful results and safeguard your health.
WHICH BOARD CERTIFICATION REALLY MATTERS
As you research surgeons, many will say they’re “board certified.” Make sure the certification they’re talking about is the one Dr. Wolfe, Dr. Vath, and Dr. Steinwald hold, from the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). This will tell you your physician has a four-year college degree, has a degree from an accredited medical school, has successfully completed a minimum of five years surgical internship and residency, has completed an accredited residency specifically in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, has practiced plastic surgery for at least two years, and has passed extensive oral and written exams and peer reviews.
The ABPS has implemented these requirements working with its umbrella organization, The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), whose role is to oversee the specialty boards and assist them in developing and maintaining physician standards. The ABPS, one of an elite group of only 24 “member boards” of the ABMS, is the only ABMS organization that certifies physicians in plastic surgery from “head to toe.”
Some surgeons will claim board certification from organizations that have not been approved for membership in the ABMS. A few of these include:
- The American Association for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
- The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery
- The American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
- The American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
- The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery
WHAT OTHER ACRONYMS TELL YOU
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons® (ASPS), the largest international organization focused on plastic surgery, is a prestigious group to which Dr. Wolfe, Dr. Vath, and Dr. Steinwald belong. The ASPS accepts only ABPS certified physicians as members. Candidates must get local sponsorship from other ASPS surgeons and prove they meet strict ethical standards in patient care and practice promotion. Then they must attend meetings regularly and take continuing education courses to remain in good standing.
The Aesthetic Society (formerly ASAPS) is an organization of board-certified plastic surgeons specializing in cosmetic plastic surgery, and Dr. Wolfe, Dr. Vath, and Dr. Steinwald are members. With over 2,500 members in the United States, Canada, and other parts of the world, The Aesthetic Society is the leading professional organization of plastic surgeons specializing in cosmetic surgery. This society is dedicated to advancing the science, art, and safe practice of aesthetic plastic surgery. The mission of The Aesthetic Society includes medical education, public education, and patient advocacy.
There are many other organizations to which Denver cosmetic surgeons may belong. They offer the chance to network with peers, some provide opportunities for further training, and some do require certification of some kind. On the other hand, some require only a membership fee.
The only way to make sure your surgeon has undergone the most rigorous certification process in the field is to make sure they are certified by the ABPS.
COSMETIC SURGEON OR PLASTIC SURGEON
The word “plastic” in plastic surgery doesn’t refer to the versatile material you may be thinking of. It derives from a Greek word, plastikos, meaning “to mold.” The discipline has been around even longer than ancient Greek civilization as a way to rebuild and improve the form and function of the body.
The field advanced through the ages and took significant leaps forward during the two world wars of the 20th century. Professional and academic societies were established and the field of study began to be formalized. The American Board of Plastic Surgery was formed in 1937, creating the standard for plastic surgeons that continues today.
The labels “cosmetic surgeon” and “plastic surgeon” are not interchangeable. A cosmetic surgeon is a doctor, any doctor, who performs procedures to enhance a patient’s looks. A plastic surgeon (those who have completed a residency) is educated and trained specifically in plastic surgery. A plastic surgeon may do mostly or exclusively cosmetic surgery, and may even call himself or herself a cosmetic surgeon. But those who perform cosmetic surgery without the rigorous regimen required by the ABPS should not call themselves plastic surgeons.
How do you know what qualifications your prospective surgeon has? How can you find out if they’re certified by the ABPS? Ask. Don’t feel hesitant. Your looks and your health depend on it.
Don’t limit your search to where you live. The best plastic surgeon for you may not be just down the street or even in the next town over. Patients from Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, and throughout Colorado and the U.S. travel to our practice because it’s worth it to get the best care possible.
Review many impressive before-and-after photos. There are two important reasons to spend time reviewing before-and-after pictures when considering plastic surgery. The first is to determine what procedure, if any, actually serves to improve your undesired appearance. The second is to distinguish which surgeon performs the best work.
There are many procedures discussed on the web and touted by the cosmetic surgery community and media as aesthetic dream-makers. Often, however, they are not. Be skeptical and use before-and-after pictures to determine which procedures will actually address your concerns. If an operation works well, there will be thousands of pictures demonstrating its success. If it’s hard to find good before-and-after pictures of a procedure used for the problem you’re trying to address, then it probably doesn’t exist. Remember to be honest with yourself about your appearance when evaluating web pictures. The mirror lies. We recommend that you take pictures of yourself and set them in front of your computer while you do your research. Make sure that the “before’s” look like you and then determine what procedures work. Just because the media or some website states that fat injection to the buttocks will lift the butt, that doesn’t make it so.
Second, once you’ve identified the best operation for you, it’s easy to determine which surgeons achieve the most natural and attractive results. All people are hard-wired to appreciate natural attractiveness. Fortunately, it’s easy for you to identify who can meet your highest expectations simply by reviewing before-and-after photo galleries.
Find a surgeon who specializes in cosmetic plastic surgery and performs hundreds of your procedure of interest per year. Many plastic surgeons perform cosmetics surgery procedures, but few specialize in the cosmetic, rather than reconstructive side of plastic surgery and dedicate their entire practice to aesthetic procedures. Because our surgeons practice cosmetic plastic surgery exclusively, they perform hundreds of most procedures per year and can assure each patient that she will get the most beautiful aesthetic transformation possible.
Seek a surgeon who upholds the proper credentials including certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), membership in the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and The Aesthetic Society.
Make sure the surgeon uses only an accredited, state-of-the-art surgical facility. Our surgeons perform surgery in our AAAHC-certified Apex Surgical Facility in Golden, Colorado. Apex is owned and operated by our surgeons, and is used exclusively for aesthetic surgery patients. Anesthesia is used to ensure that you feel no discomfort and that your breathing is maintained and controlled for the duration of your procedure. We use only board-certified anesthesiologists, including Brian Hopkins, M.D., the medical director of Apex Surgical Facility.
Decide, if upon meeting the surgeon, you make a connection. Perhaps the most important criteria for choosing a plastic surgeon is your intuitive sense of comfort with the physician as a person. Cosmetic surgery is an emotional and personal experience. After all of your research into credentials and before/after pictures, ultimately, you must feel good about trusting the plastic surgeon to care for you and your aesthetic results.
Breast augmentation cost
Breast augmentation — sometimes called a “boob job” or “augmentation mammaplasty” — remains one of the most popular forms of cosmetic surgery. More than 250,000 Americans had it done in 2020. Augmentation changes the size and appearance of one or both breasts by transferring body fat to them or adding artificial implants. As with other types of cosmetic surgery, health insurance plans won’t cover the cost of this procedure.
Breast augmentation isn’t the same as breast reconstruction. If a breast cancer patient has had a mastectomy and wants reconstructive surgery afterward, federal law requires most private insurance plans to cover that.
But for cosmetic breast-augmentation surgery, you’ll almost certainly be paying out of pocket. Read on for an overview of how much it’s likely to cost and which factors can affect the price.
How much does breast augmentation surgery cost?
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported in 2019 that the total cost of breast augmentation was between $6,000 and $12,000. One reason for the broad price range is the plastic surgeon’s fee. The average fee for a typical breast augmentation in 2020 was $4,866, according to the Aesthetic Plastic Surgery National Databank.
The surgeon’s fee can vary based on:
- Their level of experience
- The market prices in your local area
- The specifics of the procedure
Other surgical considerations, discussed below, will affect the cost as well.
What can influence the average cost of breast augmentation?
Beyond the plastic surgeon’s fee, the overall cost of breast augmentation will include such expenses as:
- Hospital or surgical-facility operating room fee
- Cost of anesthesia
- Medical tests
- Post-surgery garments, such as a compression bra to control post-op swelling
- Prescription drugs, such as pain medication
The facility where the surgery takes place makes a big difference in your total cost. For insured people, surgery can cost more than twice as much if performed at a hospital rather than an ambulatory care center. This may not be the case for people paying out of pocket, though.
You can find out facility-fee details ahead of your breast augmentation surgery. The No Surprises Act allows you to request binding good-faith cost estimates for the procedure from your area’s hospitals or ambulatory care centers. Once you have facility-fee information from those estimates, you can ask your doctor to do the surgery at a facility you can afford.
The FAIR Health website helps you zero in on the costs for people who are paying out of pocket. In Columbus, Ohio, for example:
- The average uninsured cost of inserting a single breast implant is $2,752.
- You’d also have to pay $2,151 for anesthesia.
The biggest expense can often be the facility fee, which varies widely.
- In Columbus, this fee is estimated to be $20,162 for an ambulatory surgical center (ASC) or $9,502 for an outpatient hospital.
- In Chicago, by contrast, the price difference is smaller. The ASC fee would cost $17,285, while the hospital outpatient fee would be $15,556.
What else can affect the price of breast augmentation?
The technique and materials that your plastic surgeon uses will help determine your overall costs. Discussing these aspects with your doctor is also the best way to get the result you want. You and your doctor should talk about your desired breast shape, size, surface texture, incision site, and type and placement of the implant or fat transfer.
Additional procedures may add to the cost. One example is moving the nipples. A surgeon’s average fee for nipple cosmetic surgery in 2020 was $1,739.
It’s also important to tell your surgeon about any history of breast surgery, such as whether and how your breasts have been augmented, reduced, or otherwise altered in the past. Be sure to tell the doctor how your body reacted at the time. These details will influence their surgical decisions.
Breast augmentation size
When it comes to cost, implant size doesn’t matter. Larger implants cost the same as smaller ones. This is true whether you’re getting silicone or saline implants.
Here, again, you’ll want to have a detailed conversation with your surgeon. Discuss your desired breast size and how much it would differ from the existing breast. This will help the doctor decide on the best surgical approach.
Breast augmentation techniques
To make the breasts larger, the surgeon inserts either artificial breast implants or fat transferred from another part of the body.
Breast implants are the more common choice. Manufacturers offer many options to choose from. Beyond the basic materials — saline-filled or silicone-filled — implants may also have different shapes, structures, and textures.
Silicone vs. saline breast implants
If you’ve decided on artificial breast implants, the choice of silicone versus saline can greatly affect the cost. Generally, silicone implants are more expensive. In one 2019 study, researchers found that saline implants cost about $1,300 less than silicone implants and lasted about 5 years longer.
This type of breast augmentation — also called fat grafting, lipofilling, or living-fat transfer — is becoming more popular, in part because there’s no insertion of silicon or saline and no need for anesthesia.
Instead, the doctor moves fat tissue from one spot on your body to another. Using liposuction, they take your own fat from one part of the body, such as the belly, sides of the abdomen, back, or thighs. The surgical team purifies the fat through washing, filtering, or other methods. The surgeon then injects it into the breast to get the desired shape.
Fat transfer yields a relatively subtle increase in breast size. People get more volume at the top of their breasts or increased definition of their cleavage.
Surgeons’ average fee for breast fat grafting was $3,318 in 2020, according to the Aesthetic Plastic Surgery National Databank.
This secondary procedure changes the appearance of the nipple and areolas. It may involve repositioning or raising the nipple, improving symmetry, increasing or decreasing the nipple’s size, or changing how far it projects.
You should expect certain follow-up care expenses. As mentioned above, these could include:
- Post-operative garments, such as a compression bra
- Follow-up appointments
- Medical tests
- Prescriptions for pain medication
If you need to have additional surgery because of implant problems or because you want to further revise your breasts’ appearance, a new set of costs will apply. However, if the implant warranty from the original surgery is still in effect, it may cover some of those costs.
Can I finance breast augmentation surgery?
Many plastic surgeons offer financing options or payment plans. You can also pay for your surgery with a healthcare credit card such as CareCredit. Be sure to keep a close eye on the payment terms and interest rate, though. This is especially important if you decide to take advantage of a no-interest offer. If you still have a balance at the end of the set introductory period (often 6 to 24 months), you’ll have to pay interest at an annual percentage rate (APR) as high as 26.99%.
You can also look for online lenders that offer healthcare loans, such as Prosper Healthcare Lending. It offers 60-month loans with rates between 7.95% to 36.00% APR. Depending on your credit history, you may well get a better rate from your regular credit card or a personal loan.
Does my health insurance cover breast augmentation?
Probably not. Most health insurance plans don’t cover cosmetic surgery for breast enlargement or any other surgery intended solely to change the appearance of your breasts. They also don’t cover any complications that may result from this type of surgery.
Also, bear in mind that some insurance plans won’t cover treatment for breast diseases that could occur after you’ve had breast implants.
In short, undergoing breast augmentation surgery can expose you to financial and health risks. Before scheduling the surgery, it’s wise to review your health plan’s specific coverage rules for breast augmentation and other related conditions.
The bottom line
Health insurance plans will not cover surgery to enlarge your breasts or otherwise enhance their appearance for cosmetic reasons. You’ll pay all costs out of pocket, so be sure to understand what they are: the surgeon’s fee, the price of any implants, and the fees for anesthesia and the medical facility. Insurers will cover post-mastectomy breast reconstruction, though, as required by law.
Silicone vs saline breast implants
Why breast augmentation?
Breast augmentation involves placing an implantable medical device (a breast implant) behind the breast (known as “subglandular” placement) and/or chest muscle (known as “submuscular” or “subpectoral” placement. Breast augmentation can increase the volume of the breast in naturally small breasted women, can replace volume that was lost after breastfeeding or major weight loss, change the breast shape (such as in tubular breasts), and create better symmetry to the breasts if they are naturally different sizes or shapes.
Silicone vs saline implants
All breast implants have a shell made out of an inert polymer called silicone. The shell surface can be either smooth or textured. Smooth walled implants roll around subtly in their breast pocket, mimicking the movement of a natural breast, while textured implants encourage soft tissue ingrowth into their small surface interstices, keeping the implant more stiffly in place.
Breast implants have a variety of base widths, projection amounts and fill volumes. There is not a “one size fits all” approach to breast augmentation. The best implant for each breast will be carefully selected and matched to the space to achieve the specific goals for that particular patient.
Difference between silicone and saline implants
Silicone gel is an inert polymer with no known human allergies, sensitivities or reactions. Like a gummy bear candy, the molecules are stuck to one another in a cohesive matrix. Silicone is more viscous than saline. In contrast to saline, it flows differently within its shell and can often create a more natural look and feel to the breast, like breast tissue. Women must be 22 years of age or older to be offered silicone gel implants for breast augmentation, as per the FDA’s regulations.
Saline (sterile salt water)
Saline-filled implants are available to all women for breast augmentation over the age of 18. A silicone shell is inserted into the body and then filled to its desired volume by a board-certified plastic surgeon with saline fluid. Saline has the consistency of water. Underneath very thin skin, folds of a saline implant might be seen or felt more often – this is known as implant “rippling” or “wrinkling.”
Some saline implants have the advantage of being postoperatively adjustable via a remote injection port – this is commonly used in some types of breast reconstruction procedures to fine-tune the final implant volume over months before the implant port is removed.
How have breast implants improved or changed over the years?
Silicone gel implants were first created in the late 1960s and have undergone several different generations with ongoing technological improvements. Saline filled implants were created as an alternative to silicone fill and became popular in the 1990s and early 2000s. Over the last 20 years, significant advances have been made to silicone gel implants. In fact, we are now implanting the 7th and 8th generation of silicone breast implants. The newest silicone implants have a slightly higher fill (96% fill versus the previous generation’s 85% fill) and more cross- linking of the silicone molecules, increasing the stiffness or “cohesiveness” of breast implants.
What variants of saline and silicone implants are available?
“Baffled” saline implants
“Baffling” refers to an internal channel structure within the implant, like layers on a shelf. Theoretically, these channels allow the saline inside to flow in different directions within the outer implant to simulate the feel of a silicone implant, with purported decreased incidence of rippling and sloshy liquid movement.
Variable cohesiveness of silicone implants
Different degrees of stiffness or “cohesiveness” (cross-linking of the silicone molecules) are now available in silicone gel breast implants. The most “liquid” ones are softest and flow most easily, and are most commonly used for routine breast augmentation. The most highly cohesive silicone implants are stiffest and tend to hold their shape most firmly, with potential advantages for post-mastectomy breast reconstruction. An intermediate stiffness implant is also available, which can be beneficial for breast augmentation patients who wishes to have silicone but have experienced rippling with the less cohesive devices.
How do we know breast implants are safe?
Did You Know: Silicone gel breast implants are the most widely studied medical device in the history of medical devices? Historically, silicone gel implants received negative media attention and were sensationalized in the 1980s and 1990s, with apparent claims of adverse associated health problems, prompting removal and replacement of older silicone implants with saline filled devices. Since that time, extensive FDA-directed prospective clinical research with long-term follow-up has confirmed no association between silicone gel implants and any chronic autoimmune disease. Read information from the ASPS about the safety of breast implants and the potential association of textured implants with an extremely rare and treatable condition called BIA-ALCL.
For more information about breast augmentation, breast implant science and safety, visit a board-certified plastic surgeon who is an ASPS member. Be sure to #DoYourHomework before having any cosmetic plastic surgery procedure!