Breast augmentation was performed more often in 2018 than any other plastic surgery. Approximately 313,735 women underwent this surgery.
This procedure helps women with a variety of problems. Reconstruction following surgery for cancer accounts for many of these surgeries. Many women also seek treatment to improve small or uneven breasts.
While this surgery offers many benefits, it also carries risks. Be sure to explore the risks and benefits thoroughly before deciding.
What is Breast Augmentation?
Why choose breast augmentation? If you want increased breast size, the surgical procedure, called augmentation mammoplasty, can achieve this goal.
You may have placement of a breast implant under muscle or breast tissue.
Reason Women Choose Breast Augmentation
Breast augmentation is a personal choice. Each woman has unique, personal reasons for seeking this treatment. They may choose breast augmentation because they:
- Think their breasts are too small or uneven
- Wish to regain the pre-pregnancy look of their breasts
- Wish to correct scars or misshapen breasts after surgery for other conditions
- Want to improve their self-confidence
Discuss the reason for seeking breast augmentation openly with your physician. Make sure that the procedure will achieve your desired goals.
Breast Augmentation Procedure
Two different implants may be used for breast augmentation procedures.
An implant describes a plastic a sac filled with either saline or silicone. This is placed behind breast tissue or under the chest muscle.
The surgery often requires only an outpatient surgery. Some procedures require a hospital stay if they are combined with other surgeries, or if there are other medical conditions that would make going home the same day a risk.
Women receive general anesthesia, so you are asleep and pain-free during the procedure.
An incision is often made underneath your breast in the natural skin fold, called an inframammary incision or IMF. The surgeon places the implant through the small incision.
Another approach involves making an incision in your armpit and placing the implant from there, called the transaxillary approach.
Sometimes, the surgeon may cut around the edge of your areola, the dark area surrounding your nipple. This is called a periareolar approach.
Another option involves an incision near your belly button, called a transumbilical breast augmentation or TUBA. The implant is then filled with saline. Silicone implants cannot be placed this way.
What Can You Expect During Your Recovery from Breast Augmentation?
What should you expect for your recovery process?
Your breasts will be wrapped with a gauze dressing and an elastic bandage or support bra immediately after surgery. This helps to decrease swelling and provide support while the breasts heal.
Once you wake and have completed surgical recovery, you will may return home. You will receive post-operative instructions. A follow-up appointment with Dr. Neavin will also be scheduled.
Your surgeon may prescribe pain medication or an antibiotic to take after surgery. You will wear a supportive garment, such as a bra or bandeau 24 hours a day.
You must restrict physical activity for several days to decrease the chance of bleeding into the pockets around the breast implants. Most of the initial acute pain begins to resolve in one to five days. Soreness and swelling may last a few weeks.
Once Dr. Neavin has given you the “all clear”, you may return to normal activity.
Saline vs. Silicone Implants
Two different options are available for breast implants: saline or silicone.
Saline breast implants. These implants contain saline which is saltwater.
The surgeon places the empty implant in the surgially created breast pocket and then fills it with saline.
Silicone breast implants. These implants come already filled with silicone gel. This sticky, thick fluid feels more like breast tissue than saline filled implants. In the body, they also look more natural than saline breast implants.
Risks Associated with Rupture of Silicone vs. Saline Implants
Rupture can occur with either type of implant.
Saline implant rupture. When a saline implant ruptures, the implant deflates causing a change in size and shape of the breast.
Over time, the saline solution absorbs into your body without any health risks. You may have to undergo surgery to remove the silicone shell and to place a new implant if desired if desired
Silicone implant rupture. Rupture of a silicone implant may go unnoticed. The silicone often stays trapped in the fibrous tissue that forms around the implant. This is called a silent rupture.
The ruptured implant may cause breast pain, breast thickening, or changes in the breast shape. In these instances, the surgeon will often recommend surgical removal of the implant. You may have a new one put in at the time of the surgery if desired.
What Risks Can Accompany Breast Augmentation?
It is important that you discuss possible risks of breast augmentation with your surgeon before making your final decision.
Risks can include:
- Complications associated with anesthesia
- Breast and nipples may have different sensations
- Incorrect placement of the implant in the breast
- Rupture or leakage of the implant material
- Tight scar tissue around the implant, called a capsular contracture
- Collection of fluid in the tissue, called a seroma
- Wrinkling of the skin over the implant
- Some women have difficulty with mammograms
- Some women can breastfeed while others are not
- Ongoing pain
- Need for further surgery to correct problems
- Possibility of cosmetically undesirable and irreversible outcome
Your surgeon will discuss all possible risks with you before you make a final decision. Don’t be shy about asking questions. Everyone involved wants you to be comfortable and knowledgeable when you consent for the procedure.
Understand Changes that May Occur Over Time
Many concerns have arisen over the years about consequences of breast implants. Let’s explore the true answers.
Do breast implants cause disease? Several studies completed by independent groups, including the Institute of Medicine, focused on risks of implants. They found no links between breast implants and autoimmune disorders or other diseases.
Are breast implants a permanent fix? The breasts may change over time. Pregnancy, weight loss, and menopause can change breast appearance. This is part of the normal changes in life.
Do implants require more checkups? Yes. Regular examinations allows the physician to detect problems early so they may be treated immediately.
Lifetime Monitoring with Implants
Once you have implants, you will need monitoring the rest of your life to check for complications.
- Your breasts may have dimpling, puckering, wrinkling, or breast tissue loss after removal of implants
- Notify your physician if you notice abnormal changes
- Routine MRI examinations help detect early, silent ruptures in silicone implants
- MRIs also help detect a rare type of cancer called breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma
Women diagnosed with this type of cancer may need to undergo surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.
All complications are easier to treat when detected early.
How to Ensure You Have a Qualified Surgeon
Always be sure that your surgeon has the training and certification to perform breast augmentation. You may wish to ask these questions:
- Do you have a certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery?
- How long have you been doing breast augmentation surgery?
- How many implant surgeries do you perform every month?
- On average, how many revisions of your own work do you perform?
- Have you been sued for malpractice?
- Do you have privileges at an accredited surgical facility and hospital?
- Ask to see before and after pictures of his work.
You may feel embarrassed to ask these direct questions. You need to make sure that you are completely comfortable with a surgeon before allowing them to operate.
How can You Pay for Breast Augmentation?
Speak with your practitioner’s office about payment options. Most major credit cards are usually accepted. Other payment plan are available through the office.
Prosper Healthcare Lending provides financing for cosmetic surgery. Services include:
- No waiting on decisions for loans less than $35,000
- Affordable monthly payments for up to 60 months
- No need for collateral
- No penalties for prepayment
- Fast and easy loan inquiry process
Our goal is to help you achieve your cosmetic treatments without financial strain.
CareCredit® is a card uniquely designed to assist with your health and beauty needs. They offer monthly payment options. No up-front costs, prepayment penalties, or annual fees.
This card is only for healthcare services. You can use it repeatedly for appointments and procedures.
They offer low minimum payments each month. You can have no interest financing when paid in 3 months. They also offer low-interest financing programs for up to 60 months.
Does Cosmetic Treatment Appeal to You?
Our site offers information about a variety of treatments for men and women. Explore procedures for breast augmentation, gynecomastia, hair transplants, and more.
Visit the pages on our site today. You can make your dreams come true.
Dr. Tim Neavin is a board-certified plastic surgeon located in Beverly Hills, California.