So, why on earth would a woman have something like that done? There are a few reasons. Some women who are considering breast augmentation want to have a good idea of what they’ll look like with breast implants. Rather than trying on implants in their bras, they can have a doctor inject saline into their breasts. Seeing what 350 cc’s of saline in the breast looks like may provide some indication of the look a 350 cc implant may create. Some women have no desire to actually get breast implants, they just want to have larger breasts for about 24 hours. The injections can certainly provide an amazing look for parties, weddings, and red carpet type events. The effect, however, only lasts about 18 to 24 hours. In New York City these procedures go for $2500 to $3500. That’s quite a bit to pay for a 24 hour pick-me-up.
I understand the thoughts behind saline injection into the breasts. On some level it makes sense. On the other hand, in our office we use the Vectra XT three dimensional imaging system to help women understand about how they may look with specific breast implants. Rather than do multiple needle sticks (some of which invariably will pass through milk ducts, potentially introducing contaminants into the breast tissue), the Vectra system lets the computer do the work to help show potential results. A study published just last month found that this system has about a 90% accuracy rate. Saline that is injected directly into the breast will not give a reliable representation of what a breast implant will do. Saline that is injected into the breast is placed in the breast tissue itself; an implant is placed behind all of the breast tissue and in most cases partly behind the pectoral muscle. Saline injected into the breast tissue will expand the skin and breast tissue in all directions. An implant placed behind the tissue pushes the tissue forward. The look really is different.
There may be some risks to the saline injections. As mentioned above, they may push contaminants into the otherwise sterile breast tissue. This could lead to infection, even if the procedure is done as sterilely as possible. Also, if you’ve ever been given a shot, you know that some bruising may occur. Injecting saline deeply into breast tissue requires fairly large needles to pass through a lot of tissue, including some blood vessels. That’s likely to create some bruising and soreness. Finally, if the procedure were to be done multiple times to the same woman, it’s possible that her skin would stretch and become droopy. That’s not likely to happen with one or two injections, but it’s conceivable that it would happen after multiple procedures.
I have not yet had a woman come into my office asking for saline breast injections. If she wanted to do it for some special event and understood the effect would only last about 18-24 hours, I would probably consider it. On the other hand, if her thought is that she’d like to see how she would look with that volume implant, I would have her try three-dimensional imaging with the Vectra system. I think it’s likely that the Vectra system will provide a more accurate representation of the potential outcome, and do it with no real risk.
Come by and see the Vectra XT three-dimensional imaging system. We use it with almost every patient we see in the office. It’s cool, it’s powerful, and it makes the consultation process so much more meaningful.