Permanent expandable implants are widely used in breast reconstructive surgery, but their use in aesthetic surgery is still uncommon. Previous reports on breast expansion-augmentation using permanent expandable implants focused on immediate and early advantages but failed to evaluate long-term benefits, because the reservoir was removed a few months after implantation and the ability to adjust the implant size was lost. Since 1986, we have used permanent expandable implants in 129 women for unilateral or bilateral breast augmentation using the following approach: implants were positioned submuscularly through a transaxillary incision; the filling port was placed a few centimeters below the incision and permanently retained; the implants were positioned underinflated and then overexpanded starting 2 weeks after implantation; after a period of overinflation, deflation to the preoperatively planned volume was scheduled; patients' suggestions regarding final volume adjustments were followed; the effects of repeated overinflations and deflations were investigated in several different conditions. Permanent expandable implants offer unique long-term technical and psychological advantages in the management of highly demanding patients and in the following clinical situations: pregnancy, impending capsular contracture, contralateral progressive ptosis, tubular breasts(s), difficult mammographic examination, spontaneous deflation, and rippling. Disadvantages include economical cost, port-related problems, and repeated requests by patients for volume changes. Saline permanent expandable implants allowed less flexibility in adjusting the breast size and caused discomfort when overexpanded. Permanent expandable implants in breast aesthetic surgery offer several advantages, and because patients can play an active role in deciding volume adjustments, compliance is very high.
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