Also known as augmentation mammoplasty, breast augmentation is a surgical procedure used to increase breast size. Breast implants are used to enhance the breast appearance, including size and shape.
Candidates for Breast Augmentation
Many women who undergo breast augmentation simply wish to improve self-confidence. Candidates include women who:
Had a mastectomy for breast cancer, and breast augmentation is part of the reconstruction process.
Wish to adjust the size of the breasts after pregnancy.
Want to enhance the appearance of the breasts, because one is smaller than the other or they are both too small.
Initial Consultation with Plastic Surgeon
The first step in the breast augmentation process is to consult with the plastic surgeon. The doctor will ask you questions regarding what your preferences are for feel, size, and overall appearance of your breasts. The surgeon will describe the many types of implants available, and take pictures of you. Factors to consider during the initial consultation include:
Breast implants are not guaranteed for a lifetime. Your breasts continue to age after the augmentation surgery, and factors that affect breast appearance include weight gain, weight loss, and aging.
Breast implants do not prevent sagging of the breasts. To correct sagging breasts, the surgeon may need to perform a breast lift.
Mammograms can be more difficult after breast implant surgery. There are different mammographic views that allow for better imaging after breast augmentation.
MRI scans may be necessary. To monitor silicone breasts implants, the FDA recommends an MRI at 3 years after the augmentation, and then at 2 year intervals.
Insurance may not cover breast implants. Unless the procedure is medically necessary, breast augmentation is not covered by health insurance.
Additional surgery after implant removal may be required. If you wish to have the implants removed, you may need a corrective surgery or breast lift.
Before having a breast augmentation, you need to:
Have a baseline mammogram.
Avoid blood-thinning medicines, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and even over the counter natural supplements/vitamins for at least 2 weeks before surgery.
Stop smoking for a full 6 weeks.
Arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure.
Make arrangements to be off from work/school.
Breast augmentation is done using general anesthesia, so you will be put to sleep. The surgeon makes incisions under the breast or around the areola. After making an incision, the surgeon separates the breast tissue from connective tissue and muscles to create a pocket. The implant can be placed behind or in front of the pectoral muscle depending on the patient’s breast anatomy and desires. Once the implants are in place, the incisions are closed with sutures. The site is covered using bandages or surgical tape.
After the Procedure
A nurse will monitor you in the recovery room for 30-45 minutes, and soreness, swelling, and bruising is expected. You will be fitted into a compression garment/bra, which supports the new implants. While healing, you must wear this compression bandage. Avoid strenuous activities for at least 2 weeks while healing. In addition, you cannot bathe or soak in a tub until wounds have healed. You will return to the surgeon’s office in 3-7 days to have bandages removed and the breasts examined.
Results vary from patient to patient, but overall, most women are pleased with their breast augmentation surgery. In a recent outcome study involving 225 women, expectations were met and/or exceeded for 98% of women. In addition, almost all patients said they would repeat the surgery.
Swanson E (2013). Prospective outcome study of 225 cases of breast augmentation. Plast Reconstr Surg, 131(5), 1158-1166.