Breast augmentation (mammaplasty) is one of the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of women each year have this surgery to improve their appearance. Breast implants can be used to increase your breast size, restore lost volume, create greater symmetry for uneven breasts and reshape your bust line.
If you’re 18 years or older and feel self conscious about your breasts being too small, uneven or lacking in firmness, you may benefit from breast augmentation. Ideally, you should be in good overall health and have realistic expectations about the benefits and potential complications of plastic surgery. You may wish to stabilize your weight before having this operation; substantial weight loss after surgery may affect the appearance of your implants. Heavy smokers and patients with health conditions that increase the risk of side effects during or after surgery may not be the best candidates for this operation.
Patient Consultation Overview
During the consultation, your cosmetic surgeon will discuss your options and expectations including:
- The type of implant you want (saline may require a smaller incision, but many patients prefer the more natural feel of silicone)
- The volume of each implant (measured in cc’s) required to achieve your desired cup size
- The shape of the implants (round or teardrop) based on your desired breast profile
- Implant placement (beneath the existing breast tissue or under the pectoral muscle)
- How the implant will be inserted (under the breast, through the armpit or around the lower edge of the areola)
- If the placement of your nipples will be adjusted and whether a breast lift (mastopexy) may be needed to correct drooping
Your plastic surgeon will also explore your full medical history and the potential risks and side effects of surgery. You can discuss breast augmentation costs with the patient coordinator along with payment plan options. Breast augmentation prices can vary substantially based on a number of factors unique to each patient; the total cost may be more or less than the prices you have seen on other cosmetic surgery websites.
This operation is done under general anesthesia or intravenous (IV) sedation to ensure your comfort and safety. The procedure may take 1 to 3 hours. The surgeon makes an incision, moves tissue aside to create a pocket and inserts the breast implant. Silicone implants are inserted prefilled while some saline implants may have their volume adjusted after insertion. After implant placement, the incision is closed with sutures. A drainage tube may be placed to help manage fluid accumulation. This tube will be removed later. Most patients return home the same day.
Following all post-procedure instructions is critical for optimal breast augmentation recovery. If you have a job that requires a lot of sitting, you may be able to return to work in less than a week with your plastic surgeon’s approval. Physical activity involving moderate lifting, pushing and pulling will be limited for some time after surgery. Resuming your normal exercise regimen may not be advised until 1 to 2 months after the operation.
You should be able to return to light everyday activity such as walking, sitting and standing within a day or two after their breast enhancement procedure. You may begin showering again 3 to 7 days after surgery once the bandages are removed and your surgical incisions have begun to heal. Stitches are typically removed after about a week. Pain, breast sensitivity, skin tightness, discoloration, itching and swelling are normal side effects of this surgery. These symptoms should resolve with time. Breast augmentation scars will remain, but typically fade to become less noticeable.
This operation carries many of the same complication risks as other types of plastic surgery. Complications that are unique to breast augmentation include:
- Capsular contracture (development of hard, fibrous scar tissue around the implant)
- Rippling or unevenness of the skin over the implant
- Implant shifting out of position
- Implant rupture and deflation
- A dissatisfactory outcome that may call for revision
- Changes in breast and nipple sensation (which may be permanent)
- Difficulty obtaining clear mammogram images
- Inability to breastfeed
Many patients report greater satisfaction with their appearance and more self confidence after receiving breast implants. You should choose a plastic surgeon with appropriate credentials and a substantial amount of experience to increase the likelihood of a satisfactory result.