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Plastic Surgery Center of Tampa

Breast Augmentation and the Risk of Rippling

By Jaime Perez on February 19, 2014

Tampa Breast Implant RipplingBreast augmentation comes with risks, and one of them is rippling caused by an implant. Though not a health issue, it is a cosmetic problem that frustrates women.

Rippling occurs when you see folds or wrinkles in the skin of the breast, which reflect the implant underneath the skin. This usually occurs on the bottom or sides of the breast, but sometimes occurs in the cleavage. Overall, rippling tends to be more common with saline breast implants and with thinner women.

If you are concerned, a conversation with a plastic surgeon is the best next step. Dr. Jaime Perez, serving the Tampa area, can explain the causes of breast augmentation rippling and how to avoid it. If you already have problems with rippling, he can discuss techniques to correct the problem.

What Causes Rippling?

A number of factors interact and produce rippling. In many cases, it is caused by the lack of tissue between the outer layer of skin and the implant shell. Factors that can increase the chance of rippling include:

  • Saline implants, which are more prone to ripples due to how the saline solution moves. 
  • Underfilled saline implants, which may cause the top portion of the implant to collapse and wrinkle.
  • Implant placement over the pectoral muscle instead of under it, which reduces the amount of tissue between the implant and the upper layer of skin. In women with little breast tissue, this makes rippling more likely.
  • Textured implants, which tend to grab and pull the skin, forming wrinkles.

Can Rippling Be Avoided?

Before surgery, making educated choices, which take into account characteristics of both the implant and your anatomy is important. If you are thin and have a small amount of breast tissue, you will need to make careful selections. Choices include:

  • Implant Type: Silicone implants, with their viscose filling, are less prone to rippling. If saline implants are chosen, they must be precisely filled, neither over-filled nor under-filled. Underfilling saline implants causes wrinkles, but so does overfilling, which causes tension bands around the implant.
  • Placement: Placing an implant under the muscle puts more tissue between the implant and the surface of the skin, increasing the amount of tissue available to mask rippling.
  • Implant Textures: Textured implants tend to pull the skin, causing ripples.

Can Rippling Be Fixed?

Revision surgery can be done to reduce rippling, but the solution will depend on what is causing the wrinkles. Among the possibilities:

  • Change the implant type. If you have saline implants, silicone ones may reduce rippling.
  • Change the implant profile. Profile is how far an implant extends from the chest wall. Higher profiles may help fill out areas where rippling occurs.
  • Change implant location. If your implant is above the chest muscle, relocating it below the muscle will improve the odds of camouflaging ripples.
  • Add artificial tissue. Acellular dermal matrix (ADM) increases the thickness of breast tissue between the implant and skin. In addition to helping cover implants, the material promotes cell growth to increase padding over time.  

If you want to solve problems with implant rippling, or reduce the chances of this complication before surgery, please call to make an appointment with Dr. Perez.

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