Breast Augmentation (Augmentation Mammaplasty)
Breast augmentation is a surgery designed to enhance the size, shape, and symmetry of the breasts. Breast enlargement surgery is frequently sought by women who are unhappy with the appearance of their breasts and are seeking a better-contoured body.
If you're considering breast implants, the following information will provide you with a good introduction to the procedure. For more detailed information about how breast augmentation may benefit you, we recommend that you consult a highly-trained plastic surgeon who specializes in this procedure.
*The 2012 national average cost of Breast Augmentation was $3,543.
*Breast Augmentation was the most popular cosmetic procedure performed in 2013, with 290,224 procedures performed.
Breast Augmentation is a surgical procedure with permanent results, but secondary procedures may be required to maintain results.
- What are some of the most common benefits of breast augmentation.
- How is breast augmentation done?
- How long does breast augmentation surgery take?
- Do I have to stay in the hospital?
- How much pain is there?
- What to expect after breast augmentation:
- What is the recovery period like?
- What is the long-term outcome like for most people?
- How long do the results last?
- Ideal candidate
- Possible complications and risks
Cosmetic breast surgery, or breast augmentation, is a successful way to enhance the breasts, producing a larger and fuller bust. The goal is to augment the breasts for natural-looking, enhanced results. Either saline or silicone gel implants can be used for enhancement.
The breast augmentation procedure consists of making an incision, creating a pocket in the chest/breast area, and placing a breast implant.
An incision may be made in any one of the following places: the crease below the breast, around the areola, under the armpit, or through the navel.
Breast implants can be placed either under the chest muscle or above, directly under the breasts. Placement considerations include the anatomy of your breasts, soreness after surgery, exercise activities (upper body strength and conditioning sports such as weightlifting, tennis, volleyball and others), and possible interference with mammograms.
Either silicone gel and saline breast implants can be used to augment the breasts. Silicone breast implants are comprised of a cohesive gel, and saline of a saltwater solution. Each of these types of breast implants has its benefits, and the ones that you select will depend on your preference, your body, and the doctor's recommendation.
Most likely, the anesthesia you receive will be general, although some doctors use a local anesthetic along with a sedative. Anesthesia type should be discussed with your doctor during the initial consultation.
Breast augmentation usually takes about one to three hours to complete. The length of the procedure varies according to the technique used, the placement of the implants, the patient's anatomy, and type of anesthesia used.
Most breast enhancement surgery is performed in a surgical suite as an outpatient procedure you'll be able to return home within a few hours of the surgery.
Breast augmentation stretches the tissues, and can be painful. This is especially true when the implants are placed under the muscle and in young women who have never had children. The pain is greatest within the first 48 hours, but improves with each day and can be somewhat relieved by pain medications.
When you wake up you will feel tired, sore, and stiff. It is important to take the medication prescribed to you by your doctor.
In spite of the initial discomfort that accompanies surgical breast enhancements, most women report that the soreness they experience is well-worth their results.
Your breasts will be wrapped with gauze bandages as well as a tighter bandage for protection and support after breast implant surgery. You may also have drainage tubes coming out of the incision for several days post-surgery to help drain some of the excess fluid.
Someone will need to drive you home after surgery, and you may need assistance at home over the next couple of days.
Your surgeon may prescribe an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory medication to be taken after the surgery. It is a good idea to have these prescriptions filled beforehand.
Your scars will be pink for several weeks. After several months they will begin to fade. It is critical that you review post-procedure care with your doctor. Following his/her instructions carefully will help ensure you have a speedy, healthy recovery. Also keep in mind that: Rest is important to the healing process, so do it as much as possible following your procedure. Drink plenty of fluids, and be sure to take the doctor's prescribed medications.
For at least three to five days, you should try to keep arm extension to a minimal. Elbows should not be raised higher than the armpit. The tissues will heal more quickly if you avoid stretching and separating muscle/tissue surrounding the breast implants.
Most likely, you will be able to resume calm, quiet work within a few days of your surgery. You should still avoid physical exertion for several weeks, depending on the advice of your doctor.
After several days, the gauze dressing will be removed. You may be required to wear a support bra to help your breasts form and maintain a pleasing, balanced shape. You may or may not be able to shower, depending on where your stitches are.
The stitches will come out within a week to ten days, but swelling may continue, gradually subsiding over several weeks. With the swelling, your breasts may seem hard and unnatural, but eventually they should soften to a more natural feel.
You will probably be able to resume exercise and normal physical activities within a month or two, when the soreness has subsided. Recovery varies from patient to patient and depends upon the technique, type of implant, and site of placement that the doctor uses, as well as the level of activities in your daily routine. Ask your doctor for more specific information.
Breast augmentation notably increases the size of the breasts, and can increase body proportion. Clothes may fit better, and you may also experience an increase in confidence and self-esteem.
Breast augmentation makes the breasts larger for the life of the implant. Remember, larger breasts can begin to sag faster than smaller breasts, and augmented breasts can do this as well. So it is possible that you may require surgery in later years to correct sagging if you choose to have large implants.
A study by Scott Spear, M.D. gives some information about how long breast implants last.
In general, the best candidates for breast enhancement surgery are:
- 18 years of age or older (only in rare cases will teen breast augmentation be performed)
- Not currently pregnant or nursing
- In good physical health
- Psychologically stable
- Wanting to improve their appearance
- Realistic in their expectations
- Having this surgery for the first time
The above is only a partial list of the criteria that your surgeon will consider in determining whether or not this procedure is appropriate for you. Be sure to ask your surgeon if he / she considers you an ideal candidate for breast augmentation.
Some of the more common possible breast augmentation risks include: postoperative infection, hematoma (a blood clot in the breast tissue requiring evacuation during a subsequent surgical procedure), and interference with mammogram readings.
Other side effects specific to breast augmentation include:
- Capsular contracture: occurs when the scar or area around the implant begins to tighten, causing the breast to feel hard.
- Nipple sensitivity or loss in sensitivity: usually disappears after several weeks, but for some this is permanent.
- Rippling: indentations on the breast, often caused when the implant moves.
- Rupture: when the breast implants tear and/or leak. This may require a second operation to replace the implant.
- Symptoms of immune system disorders: some women have reported having symptoms such as joint pain swelling, fever, fatigue, or breast pain. Although research has not found conclusive evidence correlating breast implants with these symptoms, further studies have been requested by the FDA.
To ensure that you are not a statistic of breast augmentation gone wrong, make sure that you select a competent plastic surgeon highly-trained and qualified to perform breast surgery. That said, be sure to discuss your chance of experiencing any of the above breast implant problems during a consultation.
A detailed description of the complications, along with further readings are provided by the FDA.
The information on this web site is only intended as an introduction to this procedure and should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed nor as a guarantee of the result. The best method of determining your options is to consult qualified surgeons who are able to answer specific questions related to your situation.
*Disclaimer: Source: According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), nationally in 2010. Most surgeons offer convenient payments plans for this procedure. Cost does not include anesthesia, operating room facility, hospital stay, and other related expenses. Costs may vary depending the extensiveness of the procedure, location, and other factors. Costs are provided solely for research purposes. For specific estimates, please contact a qualified plastic surgeon.