Breast augmentation, also known as breast enlargement, is a surgical procedure to enhance the size and shape of a woman's breast. A woman may choose this cosmetic surgery to enhance her body contour, to correct a reduction in breast volume after pregnancy, to balance a difference in breast size or as a reconstructive technique following breast surgery.
Breast augmentation, technically known as augmentation mammoplasty, is a surgical procedure to enhance the size and shape of a woman's breast for a number of reasons:
By inserting an implant behind each breast, surgeons are able to increase a woman's bustline by one or more bra cup sizes. If you're considering breast augmentation, this will give you a basic understanding of the procedure--when it can help, how it's performed, and what results you can expect. It can't answer all of your questions, since a lot depends on your individual circumstances. Please ask your surgeon if there is anything you don't understand about the procedure.
The best candidates for breast augmentation
Breast enlargement can enhance your appearance and your self-confidence, but it won't necessarily change your looks to match your ideal, or cause other people to treat you differently. Before you decide to have cosmetic surgery, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with your surgeon.
The best candidates for breast enhancements are women who are looking for improvement, not perfection, in the way they look. If you're physically healthy and realistic in your expectations, you may be a good candidate.
Types of implants
A breast implant is a silicone shell filled with either silicone gel or a salt-water solution known as saline. In the following video, Dr. Barbara Davies discusses the difference between silicone and saline breast implants:
All surgery carries some uncertainty and risks
Breast augmentation is relatively straight forward. But as with any operation, there are risks associated with surgery and specific complications associated with this procedure. Be sure to discuss the risks and any concerns you may have with your surgeon.
Preparing for your surgery
Your surgeon will give you instructions to prepare for cosmetic surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, and taking or avoiding certain vitamins and medications.
While making preparations, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery and to help you out for a few days, if needed.
Where your surgery will be performed
Your surgeon may prefer to perform the operation in an office facility, a freestanding surgery center, or a hospital outpatient facility. Occasionally, the surgery may be done as an inpatient in a hospital, in which case you can plan on staying for a day or two.
Types of anesthesia
Breast augmentation can be performed with a general anesthesia, so you'll sleep through the entire operation. Some surgeons may use a local anesthesia, combined with a sedative to make you drowsy, so you'll be relaxed but awake, and may feel some discomfort.
The method of inserting and positioning your implant will depend on your anatomy and your surgeon's recommendation. The incision can be made either in the crease where the breast meets the chest, around the areola (the dark skin surrounding the nipple), or in the armpit. Every effort will be made to assure that the incision is placed so resulting scars will be as inconspicuous as possible.
Working through the incision, the surgeon will lift your breast tissue and skin to create a pocket, either directly behind the breast tissue or underneath your chest wall muscle (the pectoral muscle). The implants are then centered beneath your nipples.
Some surgeons believe that putting the implants behind your chest muscle may reduce the potential for capsular contracture. Drainage tubes may be used for several days following the surgery. This placement may also interfere less with breast examination by mammogram than if the implant is placed directly behind the breast tissue. Placement behind the muscle however, may be more painful for a few days after surgery than placement directly under the breast tissue.
You'll want to discuss the pros and cons of these alternatives with your doctor before cosmetic surgery to make sure you fully understand the implications of the procedure he or she recommends for you.
The surgery usually takes one to two hours to complete. Stitches are used to close the incisions, which may also be taped for greater support. A gauze bandage may be applied over your breasts to help with healing.
After your surgery
You're likely to feel tired and sore for a few days following your surgery, but you'll be up and around in 24 to 48 hours. Most of your discomfort can be controlled by medication prescribed by your doctor.
Within several days, the gauze dressings, if you have them, will be removed, and you may be given a surgical bra. You should wear it as directed by your surgeon. You may also experience a burning sensation in your nipples for about two weeks, but this will subside as bruising fades.
Your stitches will come out in a week to 10 days, but the swelling in your breasts may take three to five weeks to disappear.
Getting back to normal
You should be able to return to work within a few days, depending on the level of activity required for your job.
Follow your surgeon's advice on when to begin exercises and normal activities. Your breasts will probably be sensitive to direct stimulation for two to three weeks, so you should avoid much physical contact. After that, breast contact is fine once your breasts are no longer sore, usually three to four weeks after surgery.
Your scars will be firm and pink for at least six weeks. Then they may remain the same size for several months, or even appear to widen. After several months, your scars will begin to fade, although they will never disappear completely.
Routine mammograms should be continued after breast augmentation for women who are in the appropriate age group, although the mammographic technician should use a special technique to assure that you get a reliable reading, as discussed earlier. (see All surgery carries some uncertainty and risk.)
Your new look
For many women, the result of breast enlargement can be satisfying, even exhilarating, as they learn to appreciate their fuller appearance.
Regular examination by your plastic surgeon and routine mammograms for those in the appropriate age groups at prescribed intervals will help assure that any complications, if they occur, can be detected early and treated.
Your decision to have breast augmentation is a highly personal one that not everyone will understand. The important thing is how you feel about it. If you've met your goals, then your surgery is a success.
Costs and financing Please contact us for more information about the cost for this procedure. Some plastic surgery procedures are covered by health insurance. There are also several financing options which may make your surgery affordable.
Dr. Barbara Davies discusses breast enlargement surgery.
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Using a delicate balance of science and art, our physicians can customized every surgery to meet your personal needs and goals. Our seven surgeons: Dr. Lawrence Ruf, Dr. Scott Vann, Dr. Barbara Davies, Dr. Chris Pettigrew, Dr. Dan Deloach, Dr. Carl Pearl, and Dr. Luke Curtsinger recognize that no two people are alike. You are unique and we are, too.
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