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Breast Implants: Bigger Isn’t Always Better

Jacky Gale | August 8, 2017 | Posted in Breast Augmentation

Plastic surgery is a delicate art form that, when performed by a skilled, board-certified surgeon, won’t look obvious after the healing period. In recent years, plastic surgeons have noticed an uptick in the numbers of women who opt for a more natural look for their breast augmentation. Cosmetic surgery has gained widespread social acceptance; people no longer think of it as “vain,” but rather, an investment in oneself. Perhaps as a side effect of this social trend, more people are aware of the surgical enhancements that others might have had. The trend toward smaller breast implants—and smaller areolae and nipples—may be reflective of this social understanding.

Who is requesting smaller breast implants?

The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) recently began tracking requests for explant procedures, which are performed to remove previously placed breast implants. Explant procedures hadn’t been tracked before because there simply hadn’t been that many of them. But in 2021, 219,000 women had their breast implants removed. In most cases, the patients requested that a smaller size of implants be placed after the larger ones were removed.

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According to a spokesperson for ASAPS, “(Explant patients) might have gained weight and now feel their breasts are too massive. Or they realize they’re not going to Coyote Ugly and dancing on the bar anymore. They’ve got kids in soccer.” The spokesperson noted that most women having implant removal and replacement procedures are primarily between the ages of 35 and 50.

Another factor in this trend might simply be that, as the breast implants themselves get older, women who need to have them taken out have changed their mind about their ideal size over time. Implants may last about a decade before they need to be replaced, although many women have theirs for much longer. Downsizing is more convenient when the implants need to be replaced anyway.

The influence of celebrities on the nipple trend

It isn’t just “explant and replace” procedures that have been on the uptick. Plastic surgeons have also reported increasing numbers of female patients asking about nipple alterations. Most of them are interested in getting smaller and lighter areolae, and smaller nipples. This trend appears driven by the latest celeb fashion fads. A few celebrities have taken to wearing sheer tops and see-through dresses on the red carpet and while out around town. As women begin copying these looks, they naturally start wondering if their nipples are aesthetically pleasing.

Before rushing out to a plastic surgeon’s office for designer nipples or small-scale breast augmentation, consider your reasons for wanting the enhancements. Will you still want these enhancements in five or 10 years? Are you considering breast surgery to support your own self-confidence or someone else’s preferences?

You have a unique vision for yourself. Talk to a plastic surgeon who will take the time to understand your vision and develop a personalized treatment plan that’s right for you. Dr. Thomas Loeb welcomes inquiries from women and men who are interested in exploring the idea of having cosmetic surgery or minimally invasive cosmetic enhancements. You can contact Dr. Loeb’s office in New York City at 212.327.3700.

Further resources on the trend toward smaller breast implants:

  1. People, Women Are Opting for Smaller Breasts and Nipples When Undergoing Plastic Surgery,
  2. Today, Why more women are having their breast implants removed or ‘downsized,’
  3. The Aesthetic Society, Aesthetic Plastic Surgery National Databank Statistics 2020-2021,
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