Breast implant surgery was the most popular plastic surgery body procedure in 2016—with a total of 290,467 operations performed. In a world where a healthy self-image is getting harder to come by, and where one’s appearance seems to be all-important, breast augmentation has become a very popular option for women who want to feel and look their best.

Though it’s considered a safe procedure (as long as you’ve chosen the right clinic), it isn’t right for everybody. Read on to start learning everything you need to know about breast implant surgery—and whether or not it’s the right option for you.

What is a Breast Implant?

Wikipedia defines breast implant as “a prosthesis used to change the size, shape, and contour of a person’s breast.”

An implant consists of a flexible sac containing a filler material that fills out and helps define the breast. Filler materials used are saline solution, silicone gel, and composite filler.

Breast implants are sometimes used to reconstruct the breast after a serious injury, but it’s more common for them to be used in breast augmentation, to enhance one’s natural appearance.

Types of Implants

The different types of breast implants are defined by the filler material used.

Saline Implants

Saline breast implants are filled with sterilized salt water. Saline implants provide a reliably uniform shape and firmness. They are FDA-approved for individuals over the age of 18.

Should a saline implant shell begin to leak, the implant will collapse, and the saltwater solution will be safely absorbed and expelled by the body. This makes it a relatively safe option for breast augmentation.

Structured Saline Implants

Like saline implants, structured saline implants are filled with sterilized saltwater. They also have an inner structure that can make the implant feel more natural.

Silicone Implants

Silicone breast implants have silicone gel for their filler material. Silicone gel is supposed to feel more like natural breast tissue.

If silicone gel implants start to leak, the shell won’t collapse, but the gel may escape into the body. Silicone implants are only approved for individuals over the age of 22.

If you choose to use silicone gel implants, you may have to frequently visit your plastic surgeon to make sure your implants are functioning normally. This makes silicone breast implants a considerable less convenient option compared to saline implants.

Form-Stable Implants

Form-stable breast implants also have a filler made of silicone, but this silicone material is thicker, making these implants less susceptible to damage.

Form-stable implants are also referred to as gummy bear breast implants, because of their ability to maintain their form, even when the shell is broken.

However, it is possible for an implant to rotate, giving the breast an unnatural appearance, and requiring another operation to correct.

Smooth Implants

Smooth breast implants feel softer than any other type. They also provide the breast with more natural movement. However, they can sometimes show visible rippling beneath the skin.

Textured Implants

Textured breast implants cause the inside of the breast to develop scar tissue around the implant, holding it firmly in place. This makes it less likely to become repositioned on accident, and also lowers your risk of a tight scar capsule.

Right for You? What to Consider

Before you decide to have breast augmentation done, make sure you meet the following criteria:

You’re in Good Health

Your body needs to be in a strong, stable condition—both to withstand cosmetic surgery, and to smoothly recover afterward.

You Meet the Age Requirement

If you want saline breast implants, you’ve got to be at least 18 years old. If you’re more interested in silicone breast implants, you’ve got to be at least 22 years old.

You Aren’t Pregnant or Lactating

Somewhat obviously, you can’t have breast augmentation surgery while you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

If you expect to breastfeed at some point after having the procedure, speak to your doctor about what you need to consider in order to breastfeed with implants.

Your Goals Are Realistic

In general, a breast implant can increase the size of your breast by one cup size—or a little more, in some cases. Your plastic surgeon can also use different sizes of implants in each breast to make them more symmetrical.

If you want breasts that are larger, more full, or more symmetrical than the ones you have, then breast implant surgery by a qualified doctor could be right for you.