About the procedure
Breast augmentation, technically known as augmentation mammoplasty, is a surgical procedure to enhance the size and shape of woman’s breast for a number of reasons:
- to enhance the body contour of woman who, for personal reasons, feels her breast size is too small
- to correct a reduction in breast volume after pregnancy
- to balance a difference in breast size
- as a reconstructive technique following breast surgery
By inserting an implant behind each breast, surgeons are able to increase a woman’s bustline by one or more bra cup sizes. If you’re considering breast augmentation, this will give you a basic understanding of the procedure – when it can help, how it’s performed, and what results you can expect. It can’t answer all of your questions, since a lot depends on your individual circumstances. Please ask our surgeon if there is anything you don’t understand about the procedure.
The best candidates for breast augmentation
Breast augmentation can enhance your appearance and your self-confidence, but it won’t necessarily change your looks to match your ideal, or cause other people to treat you differently. Before you decide to have surgery, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with our surgeon.
The best candidates for breast augmentation are women who are looking for improvement, not perfection, in the way they look. If you’re physically healthy and realistic in your expectations, you may be a good candidate.
Types of implants
A breast implant is a silicone shell filled with either silicone gel or a salt-water solution known as saline.
Risk associated with the surgery
Breast augmentation is relatively straightforward. But as with any operation, there are risks associated with surgery and specific complications associated with this procedure.
The most common problem, capsular contracture, occurs if the scar or capsule around the implant begins to tighten. This squeezing of the soft implant can cause the breast to feel hard. Capsular contracture can be treated in several ways, and sometimes requires either removal or “scoring” of the scar tissue, or perhaps removal or replacement of the implant.
As with any surgical procedure, excessive bleeding following the operation may cause some swelling and pain. If excessive bleeding continues, another operation may be needed to control the bleeding and remove the accumulated blood.
A small percentage of women develop an infection around an implant. This may occur at any time, but is most often seen within a week after surgery. In some cases, the implant may need to be removed for several months until the infection clears. A new implant can then be inserted.
Some women report that their nipples become oversensitive, undersensitive, or even numb. You may also notice small patches of numbness near your incisions. These symptoms usually disappear within time, but may be permanent in some patients.
There is no evidence that breast implants will affect fertility, pregnancy, or your ability to nurse. If, however, you have nursed a baby within the year before augmentation, you may produce milk for a few days after surgery. This may cause some discomfort, but can be treated with medication prescribed by your doctor.
Occasionally, breast implants may break or leak. Rupture can occur as a result of injury. If a saline-filled implant breaks, the implant deflate in a few hours and the salt water will be harmlessly absorbed by the body.
If a brake occur in a gel-filled implant, however, one of two things may occur. It the shell breaks but the scar capsule around the implant does not, you may not detect any change. If the scar also breaks or tears, especially following extreme pressure, silicone gel may move into surrounding tissue. The gel may collect in the breast and cause a new scar to form around it, or it may migrate to another area of the body. There may be a change in the shape or firmness of the breast. Both types of breaks may require a second operation and replacement of the leaking implant.
While there is no evidence that breast implants cause breast cancer, they may change the way mammography is done to detect cancer.
When you request a routine mammogram, be sure to go to a radiology center where doctor are experienced in the special techniques required to get a reliable x-ray of a breast with an implant. Additional views will be required. Ultrasound examination may be of benefit in some women with implants to detect breast lumps or to evaluate the implant
While the majority of women do not experience these complications, you should discuss each of them with our surgeon to make sure you understand the risk and consequences of breast augmentation.
Planning your surgery
In your initial consultation, our surgeon will evaluate your health and explain which surgical techniques are most appropriate for you, based on the condition of your breasts and skin tone. If your breasts are sagging, our doctor may also recommend a breast lift.
Be sure to discuss your expectations frankly with our surgeon. He or she will be equally frank with you, describing your alternatives and the risks and limitations of each. Our surgeon will fully inform you about the implants.
Be Sure to tell our surgeon if you smoke, and if you’re taking any medications, vitamins, or other drugs.
Our surgeon will also explain the type of anesthesia to be used, the type of facility where the surgery will be performed, and the costs involved.
Preparing for your surgery
Our surgeon will give you instructions to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, and taking or avoiding certain vitamins and medications.
While making preparations, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home next day after your surgery and to help you out for a few days, if needed.
Types of anesthesia
Breast augmentation is performed with a general anesthesia, so you’ll sleep through the entire operation.
The method of inserting and positioning your implant will depend on your anatomy and our surgeon’s recommendation. The incision can be made either in the crease where the breast meets the chest, around the areola (the dark skin surrounding the nipple), or in the armpit. Every effort will be made to assure that the incision is placed so resulting scars will be as inconspicuous as possible.
Working through the incision, the surgeon will lift your breast tissue and skin to create a pocket, either directly behind the breast tissue or underneath your chest wall muscle (the pectoral muscle). The implants are then centered beneath your nipples.
We believe that putting the implants behind your chest muscle may reduce the potential for capsular contracture. This placement may also interfere less with breast examination by mammogram than if the implant is placed directly behind the breast tissue. Placement behind the muscle however, may be more painful for a few days after surgery than placement directly under breast tissue.
You’ll want to discuss the pros and cons of these alternatives with our doctor before surgery to make sure you fully understand the implications of the procedure he or she recommends for you.
The surgery usually takes one to two hours to complete. Stitches are used to close the incisions, which may be taped for greater support.
Drainage tubes are used for one day following the surgery.
After your surgery
You’ll likely to feel tired and sore for a few days following your surgery, but you’ll be up and around in 24 to 48 hours. Most of your discomfort can be controlled by medication prescribed by our doctor.
You should wear bra as directed by our surgeon – usually four weeks. You may also experience a burning sensation in your nipples for about two weeks, but this will subside as bruising fades.
Your stitches will come in a week, but the swelling in your breasts may take three to five weeks to disappear.
Getting back to normal
You should be able to return to work within a few days, depending on the level of activity required for your job.
Follow our surgeon’s advice on when to begin exercises and normal activities. Your breasts will probably be sensitive to direct stimulation for two to three weeks, so you should avoid much physical contact. After that, breast contact is fine once your breasts are no longer sore, usually three to four weeks after surgery.
Your scars will be firm and pink for at least six weeks. Then they may remain the same size for several months, or even appear to widen. After several months, your scars will begin to fade, although they will never disappear completely.
Routine mammograms should be continued after breast augmentation for women who are in the appropriate age group. Although the mammographic doctor should use a special technique to assure that you get a reliable reading, as discussed earlier.
Your new look
For many women, the result of breast augmentation can be satisfying, even exhilarating, as they learn to appreciate their fuller appearance.
Regular examination by our surgeon and routine sonography for all patients once a year or mammograms for those in the appropriate age groups at prescribed intervals will help assure that any complications, if they occur, can be detected early and treated.
Your decision to have breast augmentation is a highly personal one that not everyone will understand. The important thing is how you feel about it. If you’ve met your goals, then your surgery is a success.