FAQs: Breast Augmentation Glossary of Terms – Breast Implants Terminology

Glossary - Frequently Used Terminology

Areola - the dark skin that surrounds the nipple.

Axillary - of or referring to the underarm. Indicates the location of one of the possible incisions for breast enlargement, namely, under the arm.

Capsular Contracture - a hardening of the tissue surrounding the breast after breast augmentation. See the FAQ for this topic.

Endoscope - surgical instrument consisting of a long, narrow, lighted tube. Can be rigid or flexible and has a wide range of uses in medicine. It can be used to facilitate the insertion of breast implants (particularly the axillary and umbilical approaches) and for some abdominal procedures. Use of an endoscope is called Endoscopy.

Inframammary - underneath the breast. Indicates the location of one of the possible incisions for breast enlargement, namely, under the breast.

Mammography - X-ray of the breast.

Mammaplasty - plastic surgery of the breast, whether by enlargement (augmentation mammaplasty), reduction (reduction mammaplasty) or breast lift (mastopexy).

Mastopexy - breast lift.

Pectoralis major - the major muscle of the chest or "pecs."

Periareolar - around the areola, which is the dark area around the nipple on the breast. Indicates the location of one of the possible incisions for breast enlargement, namely, around the lower one-third to one-half of the areola.

 - salt water, a natural liquid similar in consistency to water. It is used as a filler in breast implants.

Silicone - a plastic material. When formed into a gel, it provides an excellent match for breast tissue and is used as a filler in breast implants. When formed into a slightly denser version, it is used as a shell for both silicone gel and saline implants. A solid form is used for implants for other parts of the body, including chin and cheeks.

Smooth - type of breast implant, the exterior surface of which is smooth.

- under the breast tissue or gland. One of the locations for breast implant placement. Also known as above the muscle because placement is above the pectoralis muscle but below the breast tissue.

Submuscular - under the muscle. Another location for placement of the implant, i.e., under the pectoralis muscle. Also called "subpectoral."

Textured - Type of breast implant in which the outer surface, or shell, is rough and/or irregular instead of smooth.

Tissue expander - inflatable implant. It is inserted under the skin and tissue that needs to be expanded (e.g., chest skin post-mastectomy). Once expanded over a several month period, a breast implant replaces the expander.

TUBA or transumbilical - see umbilical.

Umbilical - of or relating to the umbilicus (belly button). Indicates the location of one of the possible incisions for breast enlargement, namely within or through the umbilicus. Sometimes called "transumbilical." The method of transumbilical breast augmentation is often referred to as the "TUBA" method.

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