Summary: The nonsurgical trend in cosmetic surgery has certainly been taking off—and for good reason. Faster results, lower risks, less commitment. But that trend has finally reached breast augmentation, and researchers have unveiled a temporary saline breast enhancement. There are problems with this procedure, however, and it isn’t yet approved, but it certainly invites us to look at what makes traditional breast augmentation so popular in the first place—and make no mistake, it’s very popular. In the end, people love the results, despite some transitional discomfort from recovery.

A Nonsurgical Trend

By now, you’ve probably heard about the nonsurgical nose-job. It’s the procedure in which you get the nose you want with just a little injection—no surgery (assuming, of course, you want more volume in your nose, not less). The injection is usually of a dermal filler, such as Radiesse or Artefill. Sometimes even Juvederm is used (maybe you’ve seen their commercials about rosier cheeks). Because it’s such an easy procedure—and because it’s quick and effective—nonsurgical as a technique has taken off. You can now get nonsurgical chin augmentation, nonsurgical cheek filler, and all kinds of nonsurgical procedures.

It’s All Been Building to This

So, naturally, that brings us to the nonsurgical breast augmentation. There’s a new procedure that uses a saline injection to give women temporarily larger breasts, and they generally last 24-48 hours before the saline is absorbed into the body. This is done through a saline injection, and it sounds really great, but there are a few concerns that are slowing down—if not putting in doubt—the approval process.

Safety First, Preview Second

Among those concerns is the safety of the entire procedure. Yes, injecting saline into someone is generally considered a perfectly safe thing to do. But it’s not completely without risk (few things are). For example, as with an injection, there’s always the danger of infection and blood pooling. Additionally, the process is advertised as a way to “test-drive” the size of breast implants, but many plastic surgeons warn that it may not be an accurate test drive. The placement of the saline and the placement of the implant are different (saline goes below the tissue and the implant goes below the muscle), which means the looks of the two procedures will be significantly different.

So when you’re looking at a breast augmentation procedure, specially made bras or 3D modeling are more accurate means of testing the end results.

The Bottom Line

And, of course, those results are what you’re really after. And the best way to get those results is through breast augmentation surgery. If you’re worried about pain or recovery, there are techniques that allow surgeons to give you a modestly sized implant with minimal invasiveness. If you want a bigger implant, you’ll be more confined in the type of technique your surgeon is able to use, but either way, there are ways to minimize the pain and discomfort of recovery. In fact, some women are back on their feet and engaged in light activity in a matter of days. For example, some patients elect to have a pain pump placed during surgery. More recently, long-term, non-narcotic pain shots like Exparel have been gaining in popularity. Exparel numbs pain for up to a week after injection.

Silicone Comes Out on Top

But then there’s the question of a natural look. For a long time, it was thought that saline best replicated the shape and feel of a natural breast, but that’s no longer the case. According to the website of the Clear Lake TX breast surgery experts at South Shore Plastic Surgery, modern silicone implants are far superior to their saline counterparts, both in terms of generating a natural look and when it comes to long term safety. A ruptured saline implant might mean surgery, but a ruptured silicone implant usually doesn’t.

Whether you’re the right fit for a temporary, saline breast enhancement or a surgical breast augmentation probably depends on how long you’d like to maintain your results. But if the saline breast injections only last for 24-48 hours—and women are using them for special events—one wonders if there wouldn’t be an undergarment that might get the job done just as effectively.

Price Wars – Apples and Oranges

The only place where the temporary breast injection seems to have an edge over traditional surgical breast augmentation seems to be in terms of price. The saline injection is significantly less expensive—but it’s also money that is for temporary use anyway. Because the saline is absorbed into your body, it’s more like renting. With a traditional breast augmentation there’s a much higher initial cost, that cost is more like an investment, because the result will be with you for a significant number of years.

It’s No Choice

It’s worth pointing out that, in the United States, you don’t really even have this choice yet. The nonsurgical breast injection hasn’t been approved (yet), so you likely won’t see it around for a while yet. But these cutting edge procedures are always on the horizon, so it never hurts the emphasize what has made the more traditional techniques so popular—and breast augmentation is intensely popular. In 2013 alone, over 300,000 breast augmentation procedures were performed.

Results Driven

On the plastic surgery social media site RealSelf, breast augmentations have a “worth it” rating well over 90%, so it’s unlikely the procedure will be going extinct anytime soon. Breast augmentation is here to stay, and for very good reason—people love the results.

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