The bad news about breast implants is that they do require a plastic surgeon to make an incision, but the good news is that it's typically only between 0.75" to 1.5" depending on the type/size of the implant!
Today, I want to make sure you understand all the options you have for your incision site, and that you understand the highs and lows of all four types:
Breast Crease (Inframammary)
Belly Button (Transumbilical, or TUBA)
Let's start with the most uncommon methods and go from there...
Belly Button & Armpit Breast Implant Incisions
I'm going to cover both of these together because they (surprisingly) share so many of the same characteristics.
Although uncommon, having your breast implants inserted through your belly button or armpit are good options for women who don't want any scaring on their breasts whatsoever. I know different women who have had either procedure, and their results have been really nice, and yet there are a few things you need to be aware of...
First, it will be more difficult to find a plastic surgeon who will do these incisions, because they (understandably) don't like starting so far away from the breast.
The increased distance and decreased visibility also limits the plastic surgeon in what they are able to do with placement, sizing, etc. If there happens to be any type of complication, their options are very limited in what they are able to do.
Finally, it's important you know that your implant choices are going to be limited to saline and only small silicone options (for the armpit).
Nipple (Periareolar) Breast Implant Incision
While it might seem strange at first, many women get their breast implants inserted through the outer edge of the areolar.
Even more surprising, the reason for this placement is to hide any scarring.
With the transition of color between your areolar and natural skin tone, the periareolar incision does a great job at helping to camouflage the incision site. The plastic surgeon also has really good visibility from this position.
One risk to this incision site is the possibility of a plastic surgeon accidentally severing your milk ducts, limiting or prevent you from breastfeeding in the future. It's rare for this to happen, but certainly possible.
Breast Crease aka Inframammary aka Underboob
By far, the most common incision for breast implants is at the crease of the breasts. This incision gives the plastic surgeon the highest level of visibility and the most room to insert any size breast implant.
The plastic surgeon's goal for this incision is to place it perfectly in the crease of the breast so no scar is visible when looking at the breasts straight on.
Obviously, the risk here is that a plastic surgeon could misjudge where the crease is going to fall and the scar ends up below your breast or up on the breast itself. I've seen both, and it's really unfortunate. There's also no hiding this scar since there's no way to camouflage it, as with the other incisions.
In case you're wondering...
I ended up going with the periareolar incision. It's the one my plastic surgeon recommended, and I couldn't be happier with the results.
Thoughts from Dr. Ben WoodMy general recommendation for most women is the breast crease (IMF) incision. It tends to heal very nicely and hide in the fold under your breast, and we can limit the size of the scar by placing the implant with a funnel.
There are some downsides to the other options that don't outweigh any benefits, in my opinion.
The periareolar incision is a good option, but does run the risk of exposing the implant to bacteria that naturally live in the ducts in your breast tissue. The armpit incision seems like a good option, but you may have a scar that's visible if you wear a sleeveless top, and you're more limited in your implant choices.
I believe that most surgeons have now abandoned the belly button incision because of the risks involved.