There are two basic breast implant positions when considering breast augmentation.

The breast implant positions are defined in relationship to either the breast gland or the chest muscle, or a blend of the two. A breast implant is placed either above the muscle (pectoralis muscle) or below the muscle. If the breast implant is above the muscle, it is called ‘above the muscle’, or ‘above the pectoral muscle’. Another term that may be used to describe this exact position is in relationship to the breast gland. A breast implant placed ‘above the muscle’ is also called ‘below the gland’ or the ‘sub glandular‘ breast implant position. ‘Sub’ means below. So a sub glandular implant is above the muscle.

Right implant above muscle, left below

This image above demonstrates above the muscle and below the muscle without the gland being present. The second and more popular primary breast implant position. It is called ‘below the muscle’ or ‘below the pectoral muscle’, or ‘sub pectoral’ breast implant position. Again, ‘sub’ means below. The good thing about using the muscle as the main defining point is that an implant is then it is either ‘above’ or ‘below’ the muscle. If the below prefix ‘sub’ is used, then a breast implant is either ‘sub glandular’ or ‘sub muscular’ to describe these two major breast implant positions.

cross section of breast and implant

Women can often be confused when subtle differences in sub pectoral breast implant positioning is added to the overall breast implant position. Terms like ‘partial sub muscular’, or ‘partial sub pectoral’ are used to more accurately describe the breast implant position. In general and simplistic terms there are two main positions to remember, above or below the muscle.

The more specific terms describing the sub muscular breast implant position vary with every plastic surgeon. Partial sub muscular breast implants means that the chest wall muscle was released from the chest wall to insert the breast implant and to improve the aesthetic breast result. Nearly all breast implants are ‘partial sub muscular’. Whether any of the muscle or the degree of muscle release is determined by the plastic surgeon and will vary for every woman. When no muscle is released, the breast implant will usually remain high on the chest and not fall. Complete muscle coverage may sound best but in reality, it is not nearly as predictable or suitable for most women.

When the pectoral muscle is released to position the breast implant, the implant will settle at the lowest point of the breast. The lowest point of the breast is usually at the inframammary fold. At the inframammary fold, the breast implant will be covered only by the breast gland and skin. So the upper part of the breast implant is below the muscle and the lower edge of the implant is below the gland. This is why it is sometimes called ‘partially sub pectoral’.

Breast implants placed above the muscle are below the gland. If a woman does not have a lot of natural breast tissue or poor skin quality, the breast implant may become visible over time. It will be able to be felt much easier than the other breast implants position. This breast implant position is used if a woman has the correct breast characteristics. She would need good skin, and plenty of breast gland to hide the implants.

Breast implants placed below the muscle provide an extra layer of tissue coverage. This makes it less likely to be seen. Breast implants placed below the muscle can still be felt over time. The breast implants are usually felt along the outer side of the breasts. The may be felt along the bottom or inframammary fold. Below the muscle usually will provide a better, longer lasting result with less skin stretch than the above the muscle position.

Woman who would like a breast lift and breast implants, can have the breast implants either above or below the muscle.