Plastic Surgery

For the past few weeks, there has been increasing conversation regarding the idea of a temporary breast augmentation that can be achieved by injecting saline, or salt water, into the breast.  The breast is literally inflated like a water balloon and the results last for up to a couple of days until the body absorbs the saline and the breasts go back down in size.

Admittedly, it is an intriguing concept.  It can give the inquisitive woman the chance to feel what it is like to wear the “glass slipper” of larger breasts for a night or two, or allow the patient who is interested in a breast augmentation the chance to “try out” different size breasts before committing to a permanent implant.

Despite its seemingly innocent nature, however, I have serious concern with the use of this, as yet, unstudied concept.  While it may cause little damage to women with dense, fibrous breasts, less dense breast tissue could be damaged by the rapid inflation and pressure caused by the salt water injection.  Rapid increases in pressure caused by the injection of the saltwater could prevent oxygen from getting to some of the breast cells.  This could cause cells to die and get resorbed, leaving the patient with less breast tissue after the treatment than they had prior to the injection.

Secondly, breasts are held in position by very important ligaments, called Cooper’s ligaments.  As many women who have gone through childbearing know, enlargement of the size of the breast tissue can stretch and damage these ligaments, leading to increased sagging of the breasts once the temporary volume is lost.  This could potentially occur after the salt water injections as well.

Lastly, as plastic surgeons have better ability to guide patients through the choice of breast augmentation techniques and size choices, the more invasive option of “trying out” breast enlargement through salt water injections is essentially obsolete.  In our office, we are now able to take a 3-dimensional image of a woman’s breasts and show them in 3-D what they will look like with varying size and dimension implant options.  They can even see what they would look like in tank tops and bathing suits.

If studies begin to show us who the safe candidates are for the salt water weekend breast augmentation, it may become an option worth considering for a chance to experience larger breasts, but until then, the idea should be approached with caution to avoid the risk of a tragic permanent change to the breasts after a weekend “experiment.”

Kevin J. Cross, M.D