Breast augmentation, also known as augmentation mammoplasty is a cosmetic surgical procedure designed to enlarge or bring symmetry to your breasts.
Breast augmentation can be done either through the transfer of fat from an area of your body or through surgically inserting breast implants. Candidates are people who want to increase the size of their breasts or those who have lost volume in their breasts due to a number of different reasons such as:
- Weight loss (at times due to surgical weight loss procedures)
Other candidates include people who want to even out the balance of their physical proportions.
People who have asymmetrical breasts may also wish to even out the size of their breasts through augmentation. Other candidates include people whose breasts didn’t develop as expected. A person must have fully developed breasts before augmentation can be done.
Preparing for a breast augmentation
To prepare for your surgical procedure, you’ll need to follow preoperative instructions from your doctor. You’ll probably be advised not to eat or drink starting at midnight the night before your surgery.
Some weeks before breast augmentation, your doctor will advise you to stop smoking. Smoking increases your risk of complications and limits blood flow in the body. This can prolong recovery after surgery. It’s also possible that smoking lowers your immunity, which increases your risk of developing an infection.
How does a breast augmentation work?
During breast augmentation, an implant or fat from your body is surgically inserted behind each of your breasts. The implants stay either behind the muscles in your chest or behind the tissue of your natural breasts. This can increase your breast size by a cup or more.
You can choose a curved or round breast implant. The implant material works to increase the size of your breasts as well as provide shape in areas that may have previously felt empty.
Implants are generally soft, flexible shells made of silicone that are filled with either saline or silicone. Though there’ve been some controversy surrounding the use of silicone implants, they’re still widely popular among people who choose breast augmentation surgery.
Procedure for a breast augmentation
If you choose to have breast augmentation surgery, you’re most likely to have it done in an outpatient surgical center. Most of the time, people are able to go home the same day as the procedure.
The procedure will most likely be done under general anesthesia so you don’t feel any pain. Follow your doctor’s instructions to prepare in the 24 hours before your procedure.
Your doctor will place your breast implants using one of three types of incisions:
- Inframammary (beneath your breast)
- Axillary (in the underarm)
- Periareolar (in the tissue surrounding your nipples)
Your doctor will then create a pocket by separating the tissue of your breast from your chest muscles and tissue. Your implants will be placed inside these pockets and centered inside your breasts.
If you’ve opted for saline implants, your doctor will fill them with sterile saline solution once the shell has been placed successfully. If you decide to use silicone, they’ll already be filled.
After your doctor has placed your implants successfully, they’ll close your incisions with stitches, and then bandage them securely with surgical tape and surgical glue. You’ll be monitored in recovery, and then released to go home once the anesthesia wears off enough.
Are there any risks or side effects?
A common risk with breast augmentation surgery is the need for follow-up surgical procedures to correct any complications that may come up. Some people also later desire a different size implant or a lift as their skin stretches over time.
Other risks and side effects include:
- Bleeding and bruising
- Pain in your breasts
- Infection at the surgical site or around the implant.
- Capsular contracture or the formation of scar tissue inside the breast.
- Rupture or leaking of the implant.
- Alteration of the feeling in your breasts.
- Rippling of the skin over where the implant is placed, usually beneath the breast.
- Incorrect placement or movement of the implant.
- Accumulation of fluid around the implant.
- Difficulty healing at the incision site.
- Discharge from the breast or at the incision site.
- Severe scarring of the skin
- Severe nighttime sweating
Like any surgical procedure, the use of general anesthesia also carries risks including death during the procedure.
Call your doctor immediately if you:
- Start running a fever.
- Notice redness in or around your breast.
- Feel a warm sensation around the incision spot.
These could all indicate an infection.
After you’ve healed, any pain in the breast or armpit or change in breast size or shape needs to be evaluated by your doctor. These could indicate a ruptured implant. It isn’t always easy to identify rupture immediately as implants tend to leak slowly.
Other rare complications include chest pain and shortness of breath. These are medical emergencies that may require hospitalization.
Patients with breast implants should observe their breasts and contact their doctor for any changes or new enlargement, swelling or pain.
What to expect after a breast augmentation
After your breast augmentation procedure, your doctor will probably advise you to wear a bandage that compresses your breasts or a sports bra for the support you need during recovery. They may prescribe medicine for pain too.
Your doctor will also make recommendations regarding when to return to regular work and recreational activities. Most people may go back to work in a few days, but you might need up to a week off for recovery. If your job is more physical, you might need longer time off work to heal.
When it comes to exercise and physical activity, you’ll need to avoid anything strenuous for two weeks at minimum. After invasive surgery, you’ll want to avoid raising your blood pressure or pulse. Aside from that, too much movement will be very painful for your breasts.
It’s possible that you may need to have your stitches taken out at a follow-up appointment with your doctor. In some cases, doctors may choose to put drainage tubes near the surgical sites. If you have those, they’ll need to be taken out too.
You’ll see results from your surgical procedure immediately. Swelling and tenderness may make it difficult to assess final results until after you’ve had a chance to start healing.
Although results should be long-lasting, breast implants aren’t guaranteed to last forever. You may need follow-up surgeries to replace implants in the future. Some people also decide to reverse the surgery at a later time.
After surgery, maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you smoke cigarettes, quit. Smoking can delay healing.
Disclaimer: The information provided herein is for patient general knowledge only and should not be used during any medical emergency, diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Duplication for personal and commercial use must be authorized in writing by Surjen.com.