What's Better - over Muscle or Under Muscle Implants?

Should I get my implants over or under muscle? I am recieving conflicting opinions from plastic surgeons.

Doctor Answers 23

For flat breasts, breast implants work best under the muscle.


1) We individualize based on the anatomy.  For relatively flat breasts with no excess skin (like yours), I think under the muscle is better (more of your own tissue covering the implants).

2)  When you are trying to correct some sagging with implants, then over the muscle generally better (implants fill skin envelope better if they are over the muscle).

3)  For body builders, always over the muscle.

Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Breast implant placement

There are various factors regarding how you want your breasts to look and feel, but if you and your doctor have a good, open line of communication, you shouldn’t need to go back and forth on your decision. A major factor that effects how breast implants look and feel is whether they're inserted over or under the chest (pectoral) muscle. I do submammary and submuscular implants, inserting the implants under the breast tissue and over the muscle through an incision in the breast fold. The result is fabulous: perkiness with barely a trace of scar.

If you want the most natural-looking breast you'll need a subpectoral implant, in which the implant is placed under the muscle. This procedure also requires the merest incision - about three centimeters in the crease under the breast or at the edge of the nipple -- and diminishes the incidence of capsular contracture, the formation of hard scar tissue around the implant which occurs in 10 to 30 percent of cases.

In short, you must know -- realistically -- what you are starting with, as well as what you want to look like when surgery is done. Do you want a natural appearance or a round, perky look? These are some of the factors I weigh with my patients when evaluating what type of procedure to do.

Michelle Copeland, MD, DMD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Implants above or below the pectoralis muscle

I am in agreement with the four answers already given. Short term and long term the experience and consensus his clearly on getting the implant under the pectoralis muscle at least for the upper half (pole) of the breast. To vary from this experience is asking for a less ideal result both short term and definitely long term. I'm not convinced that the risk of capsule contracture is less but there are plenty of other reasons to pad, protect, and blend in the implant using the pectoralis muscle. The only real downside or trade-off is the increased animation of the breast when flexing the pec muscle postoperatively which can be minimized by a dual-plane release of the muscle. 

If the implant is placed above the muscle it should be a gel-filled implant and the patient will have to accept potential visibility of the implant over the long term. It is not clear to most US plastic surgeons whether the 4th generation gel implants (cohesive or gummy-bear implants) will change this. I tend to doubt it. 

Scott L. Replogle, MD
Boulder Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

What's Better - over Muscle or Under Muscle Implants?

Hello! Thank you for your question! Breast augmentation is a procedure often sought by women to increase size, add upper pole fullness and projection along with improve shape and symmetry of her breasts. Women who have the breast augmentation done report increased self-confidence, self-esteem, and more comfortable with her body. In fact, it has been the most popular procedure in plastic surgery in the US for the past few years. In general, implant size does not correlate with cup size. The cup size itself will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer as well as who is doing the actual measurements. Thus, cup size or implant size is never a reliable indicator for your breast size. I typically encourage my patients not to communicate her desires in cup size but more on the actual look and appearance. Your breast width is the most important measurement.

Things to to consider during your consultation, which your surgeon will discuss with you, include implant type (saline vs silicone), shape/texturing of implant (round vs shaped/textured vs non-textured), implant position (sub pectoral, subglandular, or subfascial), incision (inframammary fold, periareolar, axillary, or TUBA), and size of implant. This can be performed with/out a breast lift, which would serve to obtain symmetry in breast size or nipple position as well as improve shape. Good communication between you and your surgeon of your expectations is warranted - choosing your surgeon wisely is the first step. Discussion of your wishes and having an honest and open dialog of your procedure is mandatory. I have found that photographs brought by the patient is helpful to get a visualization of the appearance you wish for in terms of size, shape, fullness, etc. In addition, your surgeon's pre and postoperative photographs should demonstrate a realistic goal for you. Once this has been accomplished, allow your surgeon to utilize his/her best medical judgment during the procedure to finesse the best possible result for you after preoperative biodimensional planning and fitting the right implant for your breast width. Too large of implants for the woman often destroys the breast pocket and breast shape, thus creating an oft seen uncorrectable problem later. Very slightly less tissue may be visualized with subglandular implants, but not very significant.

Implants may be placed either in the subpectoral (beneath muscle) or subglandular/subfascial (above muscle). Both locations are excellent and you can choose either one - your surgeon will discuss the pros and cons of each. In general, while a placement above the muscle is a more natural position for an implant to augment the actual breast, I find that it is not desirable for very petite women or women with a paucity of breast tissue - as the visibility and potential rippling seen/thinning of tissue may give a suboptimal outcome. A subpectoral pocket adds additional coverage of the implant, but causes slightly more and longer postoperative pain/swelling as well as the potential for animation deformity with flexing of the muscles. Today, there is no virtually no difference in rupture rate, capsular contracture rate (slightly higher with subglandular as well as certain incisions), and infection with the positions. As you see, there are a few factors to decide upon for incision, placement, and implant type/size. Consult with a plastic surgeon who should go over each of the options as well as the risks/benefits.

Hope that this helps! Best wishes for a wonderful result!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Under or over

SUB-MAMMARY POCKET (over the muscle)

The implant is placed over the chest muscle, under only the breast tissue.
- good for women with more of their own natural breast tissue so the implant can be hidden better. Also good for tuberous breasts.

SUB-PECTORAL POCKET - Dual Plane (under the muscle) - more common

The top part of the implant is placed under the chest muscle and the bottom third is covered by breast tissue.
-creates a natural teardrop shape. The implant is better covered so it's better for women with less of their own breast tissue. Makes mammograms easier to read.

Talk to the surgeon you feel most comfortable with about these options. 

UNDER THE MUSCLE but be aware of breast asymmetry

IF you were my patient, I would adivse under the muscle silicone gel moderate plus or high profile implants due to the paucity of breast and subcutaneous tissue unless it is your intention to have an "obvious" breast implant look. However, I would likely focus more on your breast asymmetry and the fact that your fright breast sits lower and more to the outside of your chest when compared to the left.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 76 reviews

Breast implants above or under the muscle

Where each surgeon places breast implants depends on his/her training, experience and location. On the most recent survey of which I am aware, about 55% of American surgeons placed the implant below the muscle. In Europe, the percentage placing the implant there was only about 25%. There is also a difference in the implant used as Europeans use textured implants a majority of the time (they do well above the muscle) whereas American surgeons prefer smooth shelled implants (which tend to form scar capsules less when below the muscle). I personally prefer textured implants placed over the muscle. However, for someone with minimal tissue superiorly I will place them under the muscle. The only way to tell this is with an exam. If you use your arms a lot or are very athletic, you should have them above the muscle if you are a candidate. Pick your surgeon based on how comfortable you are with him/her. Decide what is important to you and discuss this at length with whichever surgeon you pick.

Robert T. Buchanan, MD
Highlands Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Below the muscle implants are better

Because the look is better, the feel is better, the mammograms are better, and because there may be less capsular contracture, I always go under the muscle.

Over or under the muscle

You will get varying opinions from plastic surgeons but my feeling is that a partially sub-muscular placement is the best opportunity for you to have a more natural appearance and to avoid the "stuck-on" look.

Take care


Dr. Edwards

Over Muscle or Under Muscle Implants

Each surgeon has his or her own preferences for the position of the implants based on experience and expertise. My general preference is under the muscle; however, the recommendation must be consistent with the patient's build and her needs/objectives. Choose the surgeon best understands your lifestyle, lifestage, needs and objectives, and has the demonstrated ability (through before and after photos) to provide you the look that you want.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.