How and Why Do Breast Implants “Settle” After Surgery? How Long Does It Take?

Posted on October 20, 2017 by: Dr. Ronald DeMars

“How and why do breast implants settle?” and “how long does it take” are common questions patients ask us at Dr. DeMars’ plastic surgery practice. To answer this, we provide some background beginning with the initial patient consultation discussion.

When women meet with Dr. DeMars during a consultation to discuss a breast augmentation procedure, one of the topics discussed in detail is the patient’s “goal look”. Dr. DeMars requests that patients seeing him for a preoperative visit provide at least three photos, obtained through an online search, of women who have had the breast augmentation procedure performed and whose postoperative appearance is similar to the patient’s desired look, both in size and shape.

During the initial consultation with Dr. DeMars the patient is questioned regarding the result she wants and the photos are discussed making sure the goal is realistic for the patient’s anatomy in the final size and shape as well as the positioning on the chest.

The goal photos often show quite a bit of variation and this is discussed by Dr. DeMars with the patient, pointing out the nuances of the results and determining what the patient finds appealing and not so appealing.

Many patients bring in photos taken relatively soon after surgery and these show what appears to be a bulging upper breast that has a bit of an artificial look to it, a look some women are trying to avoid. It is at that point the discussion of implant settling is brought up.

In every case of breast augmentation with implants the newly formed breast will have a somewhat stiff feel to the touch and a look of the implant sitting a bit too high on the chest. This is due to swelling and the pressure exerted by the overlying tissues on the soft implant, the result of which is forcing the implant volume up on the chest toward the collar bones.

Dr. DeMars explains how these forces work to create this temporary overfull and stiff look and how it resolves. Over 6-12 weeks, as the tissues adjust to the pressure and the swelling resolves, the volume of the implant sits lower in the breast giving a more natural look and a softer feel. Most of the changes are done in this short period of time but many patients of Dr. DeMars comment on a continued slow and steady improvement over a few more months.

Breast augmentation is a very satisfying operation for many women for a multitude of reasons. If you would like more information on breast augmentation or other forms of cosmetic surgery you can schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. DeMars by calling his office at 503-253-3458.