What is a Breast Augmentation?
Breast augmentation, also known as augmentation mammoplasty, is a surgical procedure designed to increase the size and enhance the shape of a person’s breasts. It is one of the most common cosmetic surgery procedures worldwide and is typically sought by individuals who desire larger breasts or wish to improve the symmetry and fullness of their breasts.
The procedure involves the use of implants or fat transfer techniques to increase breast volume. Here are the two primary methods of breast augmentation:
1. Implants: Breast implants are silicone shells filled with either silicone gel or saline solution. These implants are placed either behind the breast tissue or under the chest muscle through incisions made in various locations, such as in the crease under the breast (inframammary incision), around the areola (periareolar incision), or in the armpit (transaxillary incision). Once the implants are positioned correctly, the incisions are closed with sutures.
2. Fat transfer: In this method, fat is harvested from other parts of the body, such as the abdomen or thighs, through liposuction. The extracted fat is then purified and injected into the breasts to increase their size. Fat transfer is usually suitable for individuals who desire a relatively small increase in breast size.
Breast augmentation can be performed for various reasons, including:
- Enhancing breast size and shape for cosmetic purposes.
- Restoring breast volume and shape after pregnancy, breastfeeding, or significant weight loss.
- Correcting breast asymmetry where one breast is noticeably different in size or shape from the other.
- Reconstruction after mastectomy or other breast surgeries.
As with any surgery, breast augmentation carries certain risks and potential complications, such as infection, bleeding, adverse reactions to anesthesia, scarring, and implant-related issues (e.g., rupture, capsular contracture). It’s essential for individuals considering breast augmentation to have a thorough consultation with a qualified plastic surgeon to discuss their goals, expectations, and any concerns before deciding to undergo the procedure.
What Can Breast Augmentation Do?
Breast augmentation can achieve various cosmetic and reconstructive goals. Here’s a summary of what breast augmentation can do:
1. Increase breast size: Breast augmentation is primarily sought by individuals who wish to increase the size of their breasts. This can help create a fuller and more proportionate figure, boosting self-confidence and body image.
2. Enhance breast shape and symmetry: Some people may have naturally asymmetrical or uneven breasts. Breast augmentation can help improve breast symmetry and shape, creating a more balanced and harmonious appearance.
3. Restore breast volume after pregnancy or weight loss: Pregnancy and significant weight loss can lead to a loss of breast volume and sagging. Breast augmentation can restore volume and firmness to the breasts, addressing the changes caused by these life events.
4. Correct congenital breast deformities: Breast augmentation can be used to address certain congenital conditions, such as tuberous breasts or Poland syndrome, which result in abnormal breast development.
5. Improve self-confidence and body image: Many individuals seek breast augmentation to enhance their self-esteem and body confidence. Feeling satisfied with breast appearance can positively impact overall well-being and self-perception.
6. Reconstruct the breasts after mastectomy: Breast augmentation can play a crucial role in breast reconstruction for individuals who have undergone mastectomy due to breast cancer or other medical conditions. In these cases, implants or autologous tissue (flap) reconstruction may be used to recreate the breast mound.
7. Correct breast asymmetry: Some individuals have noticeable differences in breast size or shape. Breast augmentation can help correct breast asymmetry, creating a more balanced and even appearance.
It’s important to note that while breast augmentation can achieve various aesthetic and reconstructive goals, it is not a solution for addressing underlying psychological issues or body dysmorphia. A thorough consultation with a qualified plastic surgeon is essential to determine whether breast augmentation is the right option for an individual, discuss their expectations, and understand the potential risks and benefits of the procedure.
Breast augmentation is a good option if:
Breast augmentation can be a good option for individuals who meet certain criteria and have realistic expectations. It is important to remember that every person’s situation is unique, and the decision to undergo breast augmentation should be made after careful consideration and consultation with a qualified plastic surgeon. Breast augmentation may be a suitable option if:
1. You desire to increase breast size: If you feel that your breasts are too small in proportion to the rest of your body and you desire larger breasts, breast augmentation can help achieve the desired size.
2. You want to improve breast shape and symmetry: Breast augmentation can address breast shape irregularities and improve overall breast symmetry, making your breasts more proportionate and balanced.
3. You are physically healthy: Good candidates for breast augmentation should be in good overall health. A thorough medical evaluation by the surgeon is necessary to ensure that you are fit for surgery.
4. You have realistic expectations: Understanding the potential outcomes of breast augmentation is crucial. While the procedure can enhance breast appearance, it is essential to have realistic expectations about the results and understand that individual results may vary.
5. You have fully developed breasts: Breast augmentation is typically recommended for individuals whose breasts have fully developed, which is usually around the age of 18 or older.
6. You are emotionally prepared: Breast augmentation is a significant decision that can impact body image and self-esteem. Being emotionally prepared for the procedure and having a healthy body image are essential.
7. You are seeking breast reconstruction: Breast augmentation can be a valuable option for breast reconstruction after mastectomy or other breast surgeries.
8. You have tried non-surgical options: If you have explored non-surgical methods (e.g., padded bras) to achieve your desired breast appearance but remain unsatisfied, breast augmentation may be worth considering.
9. You understand the risks and potential complications: As with any surgery, breast augmentation carries certain risks and possible complications. Being aware of these and discussing them with your surgeon is essential.
10. You have realistic financial considerations: Breast augmentation is a surgical procedure that involves costs not only for the surgery itself but also for follow-up care. Being financially prepared for the procedure is crucial.
Remember, the decision to undergo breast augmentation is personal, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer. It’s crucial to have a thorough consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon to discuss your goals, medical history, and any concerns you may have before making a decision.
What Breast Augmentation Won’t Do
Breast augmentation, while an effective and popular procedure for enhancing breast size and shape, has its limitations. It’s important to understand what breast augmentation won’t do, to have realistic expectations and make an informed decision. Here are some things that breast augmentation won’t achieve:
1. Correct severe breast sagging: Breast augmentation can increase breast volume and provide a slight lift, but it is not a solution for addressing significant breast sagging or ptosis. If sagging is a concern, a breast lift (mastopexy) may be recommended in combination with or instead of breast augmentation.
2. Fix underlying emotional issues: While breast augmentation can enhance body confidence and self-esteem for some individuals, it won’t solve deeper emotional issues or body dysmorphia. It is essential to have a healthy body image and realistic expectations before considering the procedure.
3. Prevent future changes to the breasts: Breast augmentation can improve the appearance of the breasts at the time of the surgery, but it won’t prevent natural changes that may occur due to aging, weight fluctuations, or pregnancy.
4. Guarantee perfectly symmetrical breasts: While breast augmentation can improve breast symmetry, it may not achieve absolute symmetry in all cases. Some natural asymmetry may still exist after the procedure.
5. Address all breast-related concerns: Breast augmentation primarily focuses on enhancing breast size and shape. It won’t address other breast-related issues, such as breast cancer or breast-related health conditions.
6. Substitute for regular breast cancer screenings: Having breast implants does not exempt individuals from regular breast cancer screenings, such as mammograms or other recommended tests.
7. Completely eliminate stretch marks or other skin imperfections: Breast augmentation can stretch the skin and may improve the appearance of certain stretch marks, but it won’t entirely eliminate pre-existing stretch marks or significant skin irregularities.
8. Last a lifetime: Breast implants are not considered lifetime devices and may need to be replaced or revised at some point in the future due to potential complications, natural aging, or personal preferences.
9. Increase breast sensation in all cases: While some individuals experience changes in breast sensation after breast augmentation, others may not see a significant difference or may experience temporary numbness or changes in sensitivity. It’s crucial to have a detailed discussion with a qualified plastic surgeon during the consultation to understand the limitations of breast augmentation and address any specific concerns or questions you may have about the procedure. Additionally, discussing alternative options, such as combining breast augmentation with a breast lift or other procedures, can help you achieve your desired goals.
Consultation & Preparation
Preparing for breast augmentation surgery involves several essential steps, with the initial consultation being a crucial part of the process. Here’s a guide on what to expect during the consultation and how to prepare for breast augmentation surgery:
1. Research and Choose a Qualified Surgeon: Start by researching board-certified plastic surgeons with extensive experience in breast augmentation. Read reviews, check their credentials, and look at before-and-after photos of previous patients. Choose a surgeon with whom you feel comfortable and confident.
2. Schedule a Consultation: Contact the chosen plastic surgeon’s office to schedule a consultation. The consultation is an opportunity to discuss your goals, expectations, medical history, and any concerns you have about the procedure.
3. Be Honest About Your Medical History: During the consultation, be open and honest about your medical history, including any past surgeries, medical conditions, allergies, medications, and previous experiences with anesthesia.
4. Discuss Your Goals and Expectations: Clearly communicate your desired outcomes from breast augmentation. Your surgeon will evaluate your breast size, shape, and overall body proportions to help you determine the appropriate size and type of implants, or whether fat transfer may be suitable for you.
5. Understand the Procedure: Your surgeon will explain the breast augmentation procedure, including the type of implants (if used), the surgical technique, incision options, and potential risks and complications. Make sure you understand all aspects of the surgery.
6. Choose the Right Implants: If you opt for implants, discuss the different types (silicone or saline) and sizes available. Your surgeon will guide you based on your anatomy and goals.
7. Review Before-and-After Photos: Look at before-and-after photos of previous patients who have undergone breast augmentation with the same surgeon. This can give you an idea of the surgeon’s expertise and the potential results.
8. Learn About Recovery and Aftercare: Understand the recovery process, post-operative care, and restrictions during the healing period. Ask about the expected downtime and when you can resume daily activities and exercise.
9. Discuss Possible Complications: While breast augmentation is generally safe, it’s essential to be aware of potential complications and how they are managed if they arise.
10. Get a Cost Estimate: Ask about the total cost of the procedure, including surgeon fees, anesthesia fees, and facility fees. Also, inquire about financing options if needed.
11. Follow Preoperative Instructions: Your surgeon will provide preoperative instructions to follow in the days leading up to the surgery. This may include avoiding certain medications, stopping smoking, and fasting before the procedure.
12. Arrange for Post-Surgery Support: Plan for someone to drive you home after the surgery and have someone available to assist you during the initial recovery period. By being well-prepared for the consultation and carefully following your surgeon’s instructions, you can increase the likelihood of a successful breast augmentation experience and achieve your desired results. Remember that communication with your surgeon is key, so don’t hesitate to ask any questions or express any concerns you may have before moving forward with the surgery.
Breast Implants Options
When considering breast augmentation, there are various breast implant options available. Each option has its unique characteristics, and the choice depends on your preferences, body anatomy, and desired outcomes. Here are the primary breast implant options to consider:
1. Implant Material:
a. Silicone implants: These implants are filled with a cohesive silicone gel, giving them a natural feel and appearance. Silicone implants are popular due to their ability to mimic the feel of natural breast tissue.
b. Saline implants: Saline implants are filled with a sterile saline solution (saltwater). They tend to feel firmer than silicone implants and require a smaller incision during surgery, as they are filled after placement.
2. Implant Shape:
a. Round implants: These implants have a symmetrical, round shape and provide fullness in both the upper and lower parts of the breasts. They can achieve a more pronounced cleavage.
b. Teardrop (anatomical) implants: These implants have a teardrop shape, resembling the natural slope of breasts. They are designed to provide a more natural-looking result, particularly for individuals with minimal breast tissue.
3. Implant Profile:
The profile of an implant refers to how much the implant projects from the chest wall. The options typically include low, moderate, high, and extra-high profile. A higher profile implant can create a more prominent projection, while a lower profile can offer a more subtle augmentation.
4. Implant Size:
Implant sizes are measured in cubic centimeters (cc) and determine the volume and overall breast size increase. During the consultation, your surgeon will help you choose a size that suits your body proportions and meets your goals. Breast implants are available in sizes ranging from 100cc to over 800cc.
5. Implant Surface Texture:
a. Smooth implants: These implants have a smooth surface and are often used for round implants. They move freely within the breast pocket and have a softer feel.
b. Textured implants: Textured implants have a rough surface designed to adhere to the surrounding breast tissue, reducing the risk of implant movement and certain types of complications.
6. Incision Location:
The incision for implant placement can be made in various locations, including:
a. Inframammary incision (in the fold under the breast)
b. Periareolar incision (around the edge of the areola)
c. Transaxillary incision (in the armpit)
d. Transumbilical incision (in the belly button) – used for saline implants only
Each option has its advantages and considerations, and the best choice depends on factors such as your anatomy, desired outcome, and the recommendations of your plastic surgeon. During the consultation, your surgeon will discuss these options with you and help you make an informed decision based on your individual needs and preferences.
Breast Implant Placement
Breast implant placement refers to the surgical technique used to position the breast implants within the breast tissue. There are two primary options for breast implant placement: subglandular (over the muscle) and submuscular (under the muscle). Each technique has its advantages and considerations, and the choice depends on various factors, including your anatomy, lifestyle, and the recommendations of your plastic surgeon. Here’s an overview of both options:
1. Subglandular (Over the Muscle) Placement:
In this technique, the breast implants are placed directly behind the breast tissue and over the pectoral muscle. The surgeon creates a pocket for the implant between the breast tissue and the chest muscle.
- Easier and quicker surgery with a shorter recovery time.
- Less discomfort in the immediate postoperative period.
- May provide more pronounced cleavage and upper breast fullness.
- Potentially higher risk of visible rippling or implant edges, especially for individuals with thinner breast tissue.
- May have a higher risk of capsular contracture (scar tissue formation around the implant).
- Implants may interfere with mammograms and make breast cancer detection slightly more challenging.
2. Submuscular (Under the Muscle) Placement:
In this technique, the breast implants are placed partially or completely under the pectoral muscle. The surgeon creates a pocket beneath the muscle, and the lower part of the implant is covered by the muscle.
- Potentially more natural-looking results, especially for women with thin breast tissue.
- Reduced risk of visible rippling or implant edges.
- May provide better long-term support for the implant, especially for larger implants.
- Slightly longer recovery time due to the involvement of the chest muscle.
- Initial discomfort may be more significant due to muscle involvement.
- Implant movement during muscle contraction (e.g., flexing the chest) may be visible but is generally not a concern for most individuals. It’s essential to have a detailed discussion with your plastic surgeon during the consultation to understand the pros and cons of each breast implant placement option and how they relate to your specific circumstances. Your surgeon will consider factors such as your breast anatomy, the amount of natural breast tissue you have, your activity level, and your desired outcome to help you make an informed decision that aligns with your goals and preferences.
Risks and Safety
Breast implant surgery, like any surgical procedure, comes with certain risks and considerations. While breast augmentation is generally safe and has a high satisfaction rate for many individuals, it’s crucial to be aware of potential complications. Here are some of the risks associated with breast implants:
1. Infection: Infections can occur after surgery, although they are relatively rare. If an infection develops around the implant, it may require antibiotic treatment or, in severe cases, removal of the implant.
2. Capsular contracture: This is a potential complication where scar tissue forms around the implant, causing it to harden and potentially distort the breast shape. The severity of capsular contracture can vary, and additional surgery may be required to address the issue.
3. Implant rupture or leakage: Breast implants can rupture or leak, especially in older implants. Ruptures can be caused by trauma, age-related wear and tear, or manufacturing defects. If a saline implant ruptures, the saline is harmlessly absorbed by the body, and the deflation is noticeable. However, silicone gel implant ruptures may go unnoticed, requiring regular monitoring with MRI scans to detect.
4. Changes in breast sensation: Some women may experience temporary or permanent changes in breast sensation after breast augmentation surgery. These changes can include increased or decreased sensitivity or numbness in the breast area.
5. Scarring: As with any surgery, breast augmentation involves incisions, which result in scars. However, skilled surgeons work to minimize scarring and often place incisions in inconspicuous locations.
6. Rippling or wrinkling: In individuals with thin breast tissue, especially those who choose saline implants, visible rippling or wrinkling of the implant may occur, particularly if the implant is placed over the muscle.
7. Asymmetry: While breast augmentation can improve breast symmetry, achieving perfect symmetry may not always be possible.
8. Implant malposition: In some cases, implants may shift or move from their intended position over time, causing an unnatural appearance. Revision surgery may be required to correct the position of the implant.
9. Anesthesia risks: Any surgery that requires general anesthesia carries inherent risks related to anesthesia, although these risks are generally low in healthy individuals.
It’s important to remember that the majority of breast augmentation surgeries are successful, and many women are highly satisfied with their results. To minimize the risks and ensure the best possible outcome, it’s essential to choose a board-certified plastic surgeon with experience in breast augmentation and follow all preoperative and postoperative instructions carefully. During your consultation, your surgeon will discuss the potential risks and safety considerations associated with breast implants and address any concerns you may have. Remember to be open about your medical history and expectations to help your surgeon make the best decision for your individual circumstances.
Recovery and Results
Breast implant recovery and results are crucial aspects of the breast augmentation process. Understanding what to expect during the recovery period and the timeline for achieving final results can help you prepare for your breast augmentation journey. Here’s an overview of breast implant recovery and results:
1. Immediately After Surgery: You will be taken to a recovery area where you’ll be monitored as you wake up from anesthesia. Your breasts may feel tight and sore, and you may experience some discomfort.
2. First Week: The initial recovery period typically involves swelling, bruising, and mild to moderate discomfort. Your surgeon may provide pain medications to manage discomfort. It’s essential to rest and avoid strenuous activities during this time.
3. First Few Weeks: Swelling and bruising will gradually decrease. You’ll need to wear a supportive post-surgical bra or compression garment as instructed by your surgeon.
4. Physical Activity: Avoid vigorous exercise and heavy lifting for several weeks after surgery. Follow your surgeon’s guidelines on when it is safe to resume normal activities and exercise.
5. Return to Work: The time off work will vary depending on the type of job you have and your healing progress. Many people can return to non-strenuous work within a week or two.
6. Postoperative Visits: You’ll have follow-up visits with your surgeon to monitor your healing progress and address any concerns.
1. Immediate Results: After surgery, you will notice an immediate increase in breast size and shape. However, your breasts will still be swollen, and the final result is not yet visible.
2. Settling and Softening: Over the first few weeks to months, the breasts will undergo a settling process, and the implants will soften, leading to a more natural appearance and feel.
3. Final Results: The final results of breast augmentation can usually be appreciated around 3 to 6 months after surgery. By this time, most of the swelling has resolved, and the breasts have achieved their final shape and position.
4. Scarring: The incision scars will fade over time but may take up to a year or more to become less noticeable.
5. Long-Term Satisfaction: Many women report high levels of satisfaction with their breast augmentation results. The surgery can enhance body confidence and self-esteem, leading to improved quality of life.
It’s important to follow your surgeon’s postoperative instructions diligently, attend all follow-up appointments, and be patient during the recovery process. Remember that each person’s healing timeline is unique, and it may take time for your body to adjust to the implants fully. If you have any concerns during the recovery period or if you notice any unexpected changes, don’t hesitate to contact your surgeon for guidance and reassurance. Open communication with your surgeon is crucial for ensuring the best possible breast augmentation results and overall satisfaction.
The recovery period after breast implant surgery can vary from person to person and may depend on several factors, including the surgical technique used, the type of implants, and individual healing characteristics. However, here is a general timeline for the breast implant recovery period:
Immediate Post-Operative Period (First 24-48 Hours):
- You will likely spend the initial hours after surgery in a recovery room, where you’ll be closely monitored as you wake up from anesthesia.
- You may experience grogginess, nausea, and some discomfort during this time.
- Pain medication and antibiotics will typically be prescribed to manage pain and reduce the risk of infection.
- It’s essential to have a responsible adult drive you home after surgery.
First Few Days (1-7 Days):
- You will continue to experience some pain, swelling, and bruising in the breast area. Pain and discomfort can be managed with prescribed medications.
- It’s important to get plenty of rest and avoid strenuous activities during this period.
- You will need to wear a surgical bra or compression garment as recommended by your surgeon to support the healing process and reduce swelling.
- You may have limitations on lifting and arm movement, so avoid heavy lifting and any activities that strain the chest muscles.
First Two Weeks:
- Swelling and bruising will begin to subside, but your breasts may still be sensitive and swollen.
- You should continue to wear the recommended supportive bra or garment.
- You will gradually increase your activity level, but you should still avoid vigorous exercise, lifting heavy objects, and activities that involve raising your arms above your head.
- Most of the swelling and bruising should have resolved by this time.
- You can gradually return to more normal activities, including light exercise, but it’s essential to follow your surgeon’s guidelines and avoid any activities that cause discomfort or strain the chest area.
- Incision scars will continue to heal and fade over time.
- By this stage, you should be able to engage in regular physical activities and exercise, but check with your surgeon for clearance.
- Your breast implants will continue to settle into their final position, and the breasts will soften, achieving a more natural look and feel.
- The majority of the post-operative changes will stabilize, and you’ll get a better sense of your long-term results.
Months 6 and Beyond:
- You should have achieved your final breast augmentation results, and any residual swelling or minor asymmetry should have resolved.
- Continue to monitor your breasts for any unusual changes or concerns.
- Attend any follow-up appointments with your surgeon as recommended.
It’s important to note that every person’s recovery experience is unique, and the timeline may vary. Follow your surgeon’s post-operative instructions carefully, maintain open communication with your surgical team, and be patient as your body heals and adjusts to the breast implants. If you have any concerns or questions during your recovery, don’t hesitate to reach out to your surgeon for guidance and support.
Terminology Patient Should Be Aware of
Before undergoing breast implant surgery, it’s helpful for patients to familiarize themselves with some common terminology and terms related to the procedure. This can help improve communication with their surgeon and ensure they have a clear understanding of the process. Here are some important terms and phrases related to breast implant surgery:
- Breast Augmentation: The medical term for the surgical procedure to enhance breast size and shape using implants or fat transfer.
- Implants: Prosthetic devices made of silicone or saline used to increase breast size and improve breast shape.
- Silicone Implants: Breast implants filled with a silicone gel that closely resembles the texture of natural breast tissue.
- Saline Implants: Breast implants filled with sterile saline (saltwater) solution.
- Incision: The surgical cut or opening made on the breast to insert the implant. Common incision sites include the inframammary fold (under the breast), periareolar (around the nipple), transaxillary (in the armpit), and transumbilical (in the belly button).
- Pocket: The space created by the surgeon to accommodate the breast implant. This can be subglandular (above the chest muscle) or submuscular (beneath the chest muscle).
- Capsular Contracture: A complication where scar tissue (capsule) forms around the implant and may cause the breast to feel firm or distorted. It can occur in varying degrees of severity.
- Rippling: Visible or palpable wrinkling or rippling of the implant, often more noticeable in saline implants or in individuals with thin breast tissue.
- Breast Lift (Mastopexy): A surgical procedure that raises and reshapes sagging breasts. It is sometimes performed in conjunction with breast augmentation to achieve the desired results.
- Anesthesia: Medications used to induce a state of unconsciousness or sedation during surgery. Types include general anesthesia and local anesthesia with sedation.
- Recovery Period: The time required for healing and recuperation after breast implant surgery. This includes the immediate postoperative period, weeks of rest and limited activity, and the longer-term recovery phase.
- Hematoma: A collection of blood that can occur at the surgical site and may require drainage.
- Seroma: A buildup of clear fluid at the surgical site, which may require drainage.
- Symmastia (Uniboob): A condition where breast implants are placed too close together, resulting in a single, continuous breast appearance.
- Double-Bubble Deformity: A complication where the implant sits below the natural breast crease, creating a double-breasted appearance.
- MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging, a diagnostic tool used to assess the integrity of silicone gel breast implants and detect any ruptures.
- Breast Implant Profile: Refers to how much an implant projects from the chest wall. Options include low, moderate, high, and extra-high profiles.
- Breast Implant Size: Measured in cubic centimeters (cc) or milliliters (ml), indicating the volume of the implant.
- Breast Implant Shape: Can be round or teardrop (anatomical). Round implants provide fullness both above and below, while teardrop implants mimic the natural breast shape.
- Breast Implant Texture: Implants can have smooth or textured surfaces, with textured implants designed to reduce the risk of implant movement or rotation.
Familiarizing yourself with these terms can help you have informed discussions with your surgeon and better understand the breast augmentation process. Additionally, don’t hesitate to ask your surgeon any questions you may have to ensure you have a clear understanding of your specific procedure.