Breast augmentation at a glance
- Breast augmentation involves surgically placed implants that expand breast tissue and reduce asymmetries in a woman’s breasts.
- Breast augmentation, often called breast enhancement or augmentation mammoplasty, was the most common cosmetic surgical procedure in the U.S. in 2013.
- Incision choices include round the nipple and in the breast fold.
- Patients should anticipate a minimum of three weeks for full recovery, although most people can return to work in three to seven days.
What is a breast augmentation?
Breast augmentation surgery involves inserting an implant into the breast to increase breast cup size. Though patients frequently choose breast augmentation for the sole purpose of enlarging their breasts, it is often performed after weight loss or pregnancy, which can alter breast shape and size.
The majority of implants available on the market contain a saline or silicone filling. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved saline implants for Denver women above the age of 18. Patients are required to be 21 years or older for silicone implants.
Silicone implants, which are filled with an elastic gel, are purported to achieve a “teardrop” effect, or a downward slope like natural breasts. They typically cost more than saline implants and require frequent post-op checkups to ensure the implant has not burst and started leaking into the body. If the implant has ruptured, it will have to be surgically retrieved. Although general silicone implants have a significantly lower rupture rate than saline implants
Saline implants consist of a simple salt water filling. They typically cost less than silicone implants. If a saline implant ruptures, the solution will leak but safely dissipate into the body. Some women report that saline implants can become uncomfortable in extremely cold weather, as the implant may not heat to the core body temperature.
A comprehensive discussion between patient and doctor will help distinguish the most suitable implant.
Breast augmentation procedure
Breast augmentation begins with anesthesia. Depending on the doctor or surgery location, patients are offered intravenous sedation or general anesthesia. Patients under general anesthesia are unconscious and unable to feel pain during the procedure. Intravenous sedation, also known as conscious sedation, allows patients to stay awake and in a relaxed state that blocks pain.
Once the patient is under anesthesia, the plastic surgeon makes initial incisions in discreet areas to alleviate any visible scars. The surgeon will discuss incision area options prior to surgery. Options include an incision line around the nipple (periareolar), in the fold underneath the breast (inframammary), or in the armpit region (transaxillary)
The surgeon then guides the implant through the initial incision to its proper position. The surgeon may place the implants over or under the chest muscles. If a patient has enough breast tissue (C -cup and above), the implant can go over the muscle. Women with less breast tissue will likely elect to have their implants placed under the muscle to give the most natural look possible.
Once the surgeon places the implants, he or she closes the incision pocket, layers sutures in the breast tissues and applies skin adhesive or surgical tape to heal the skin.
Recovering from breast augmentation
Immediately following surgery, the surgeon wraps the breasts in gauze, bandages, or a support bra to help calm swelling. After a few hours of monitoring in a patient recovery room, patients typically go home the same day as the surgery. Recovery time for breast augmentation varies, but soreness and swelling will most likely continue for approximately three weeks.
Risks and considerations
General breast augmentation risks include undesirable scarring, breast pain and infection. Anesthesia also carries some medical risks.
Temporary change in nipple or breast sensation may also occur. Specific considerations regarding the risks of saline and silicone implants are discussed on the saline or silicone library page.
Some research suggests that breast implants can obstruct a women’s ability to breastfeed because, in some cases, women are unable to produce milk after breast augmentation. Implants may also decrease mammogram accuracy when screening for breast cancer. Mammograms may also, in very rare cases, cause an implant to burst.
Procedural risks continue to decrease as implant fillings become safer and less likely to rupture. The most important factor in minimizing possible risks and side effects is to select a qualified and experienced plastic surgeon.