What is breast augmentation surgery?
Breast augmentation is the surgical placement of breast implants to increase fullness and projection of the breasts or to improve symmetry of the breasts.
Clinically referred to as augmentation mammaplasty, a breast augmentation procedure is used cosmetically to:
- Enlarge a naturally small breast, most commonly the result of heredity
- Restore breast volume lost following pregnancy, as a result of breast-feeding or due to weight loss
- Achieve better symmetry when breasts are moderately disproportionate in size and shape
- Enhance your self-image and self-confidence
If you are dissatisfied with your breast size, breast augmentation surgery (either breast enhancement or breast enlargement) is a choice to consider.
Breast implants also may be used for breast reconstruction after mastectomy or injury.>
What happens during breast augmentation surgery?
Step 1 – Anesthesia
Medications are administered for your comfort during breast augmentation surgery. The choices include intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best choice for you.
Step 2 – The incision
Incisions are made in inconspicuous areas to minimize visible scarring. You and your plastic surgeon will discuss which incision options are appropriate for your desired outcome. Incision options include:
Incisions vary based on the type of implant, degree of enlargement desired, your particular anatomy, and patient-surgeon preference.
Step 3 – Implant choice: Silicone breast implants or saline breast implants?
Breast size and shape are important, so be honest and open about your expectations when talking with your surgeon.
Implant type and size will be determined not just on your desired increase in size but more importantly on your breast anatomy, skin elasticity and body type.
Options for Breast Implants
Saline breast implants are filled with sterile salt water. They can be filled with varying amounts of saline which can affect the shape, firmness and feel of the breast. Should the implant shell leak, a saline breast implant will collapse and the saline will be absorbed and naturally expelled by the body.
Silicone breast implants are filled with an elastic gel. The gel feels and moves much like natural breast tissue. If the implant leaks, the gel may remain within the implant shell, or may escape into the breast implant pocket.
A leaking implant filled with silicone gel may not collapse. If you choose these implants, you may need to visit your plastic surgeon regularly to make sure the implants are functioning properly. An ultrasound or MRI screening can assess the condition of breast implants.
Saline or silicone implants may be recommended at a younger age if used for reconstruction purposes.
Step 4 – Inserting and placing the breast implant
After the incision is made, a breast implant is inserted into a pocket either:
- Under the pectoral muscle (a submuscular placement), or
- Directly behind the breast tissue, over the pectoral muscle (a submammary/ subglandular placement)
The method for inserting and positioning implants depends on the type of implant, degree of enlargement desired, your body type, and your surgeon’s recommendations.
Step 5 – Closing the incisions
Incisions are closed with layered sutures in the breast tissue and with sutures, skin adhesive or surgical tape to close the skin. Over time the incision lines will fade.
Step 6 – See the results
The results of breast augmentation surgery are immediately visible. Over time, post-surgical swelling will resolve and incision lines will fade. Satisfaction with your new image should continue to grow as you recover and realize the fulfillment of your goal for fuller breasts.
You’ll probably feel somewhat tired and sore for several days following the operation, and your breasts may remain swollen and sensitive to physical contact for as long as a month. You may also experience a feeling of tightness in the breast area as your skin adjusts to your new breast size. These effects are temporary, however until your breast tissue and muscle adjusts.
Postoperative care is quite simple, usually involving use of a postoperative bra or a sports bra for extra support and positioning while you heal.
You will most likely be able to return to work within a few days, although you should avoid any strenuous activities that could raise your pulse and blood pressure for a week or two.