The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has recently noted that more and more women opt for breast enhancement procedures like breast augmentation. Traditionally, women think of getting implants as it was the only way to enhance the look of their breasts. But this is not true. Breast lift surgeries are outnumbering implant surgeries by the ratio of 2 is to 1.
You may have seen terms like breast augmentation, breast lift (mastopexy), and breast implants used interchangeably. Breast implant and breast augmentation surgery are two names for what is essentially the same procedure.
These cosmetic surgeries involve placing saline or silicone implants into the breast to enhance shape, size, fullness, and volume. The implants last for about ten years on average.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons or ASPS, more than 200k breast augmentation procedures were carried out in a single year in the US.
To help shed some light on this procedure, this article will explain in detail the breast augmentation procedure and how it can benefit most people.
What is Breast Augmentation?
Breast augmentation is also referred to as augmentation mammoplasty or a “boob job.” It is categorized as a cosmetic surgical procedure designed to enlarge or bring symmetry to your breasts.
Your doctor will perform the procedure by transferring fat from another area of your body or through surgically inserting breast implants.
People opt for this treatment – who simply want to increase the size of their breasts or people who have lost volume in their breasts. The volume loss could be due to a number of different reasons, including:
- weight loss (due to surgical weight loss procedures)
- pregnancy even when you have early signs of pregnancy.
In addition, some candidates want to even out the balance of their physical bodies. Individuals who have smaller breasts and wider hips may also opt for this plastic surgery and may want to enlarge their breasts. This surgery is quite similar to thread lift and eyebrow lift.
Moreover, people who have asymmetrical breasts might also wish to even out the size through augmentation. Other candidates could include people whose breasts did not develop as expected. Your surgeon will only perform an augmentation when your breasts are fully grown.
How Does Breast Augmentation Work?
In breast augmentation, fat tissues from your body or an implant are surgically inserted behind each of your breasts. Your surgeon will place the implants such that it sits either behind the tissue of your natural breasts or behind the muscles in your chest. This process will raise your breast size by a cup or even more.
You can choose a round or contoured breast implant. The implant material works to boost the size of your breasts after the treatment and provide shape in areas that might have previously been empty.
Remember that breast augmentation is not the same procedure as a breast lift. A lift works to correct your sagging breasts.
Your dentist will use implants that are soft, flexible shells made of silicone. These shells are filled with either saline or silicone. Though there has been some controversy regarding the use of silicone implants, they are still widely popular among people who opt for this cosmetic surgery.
How You Should Prepare for Breast Augmentation
You should consult with a plastic surgeon about breasts’ appearance, feel, and size preferences. Depending on your requirements, your surgeon will describe specific types of implants.
You can choose from smooth or textured, round or shaped like a teardrop, saline, or silicone. You can also choose surgical techniques.
Before you decide to opt for the surgery, you should consider the following:
- Breast implants will not prevent your breasts from sagging. Your surgeon might suggest a breast lift in addition to breast augmentation to correct your sagging problem.
- Breast implants are not guaranteed to last a lifetime. According to stats, the average lifespan of an implant is about 10 years. Implant rupture could be a possibility. As your breasts will continue to age, factors such as weight gain or weight loss might change the appearance of your breasts. To resolve these issues, you might need surgery.
- Mammograms might be more complicated. If you have implants, and routine mammograms, you will need additional, specialized views to have a clear image.
- Breast implants could hamper breast-feeding. Many women are able to breast-feed after the surgery successfully. But for others, breast-feeding could be a challenge.
- Insurance does not cover breast implants. Breast augmentation is not covered by insurance. So you need to bear the expenses, including all the expenses related to the surgery.
Your doctor might suggest a baseline mammogram before your surgery. Your doctor might also adjust certain medications before the surgery. For example, it is important to avoid aspirin and other similar medicines that can increase bleeding. If you are a smoker, your surgeon will ask you to stop smoking for a few weeks before and after the surgery.
Procedure for a Breast Augmentation
If you choose to have breast augmentation surgery, your surgery will most likely be done in an outpatient surgical center. Most of the time, patients can go home the same day as the procedure.
The procedure is generally performed under general anesthesia, so you do not feel any pain. You should follow your surgeon’s instructions to prepare one day before your procedure.
Your surgeon might place your breast implants using either one of these types of incisions:
- Inframammary just beneath your breast.
- Periareolar – in the tissue surrounding your nipples.
- Axillary – in the underarm.
Your surgeon will then create a pocket during the surgery by separating the breast tissue from your chest muscles. Then they will place your implants inside these pockets and center them.
If you have chosen saline implants, your surgeon will fill them with sterile saline solution. These shells are then placed successfully. If you choose silicone, the implants will already be filled.
After your surgeon has placed the implants successfully, they will close your incisions with stitches and then bandage them securely. You will be monitored in the recovery room and then released to go home once the effect of the anesthesia wears off.
What to Expect After a Breast Augmentation
After your procedure, your surgeon will advise you to wear a bandage that will compress your breasts or a sports bra for the support you need during recovery. Your doctor might prescribe medication for pain, too.
Your surgeon will also advise you regarding when to return to work and regular activities. Many go back to work in a few days, but you might need up to a week off for healing and recovery. If your job is more physical, you might require longer time off from work.
When it comes to physical activity and exercise you will need to avoid anything strenuous. Following invasive surgery, you should avoid raising your blood pressure by any means. Aside from that, too much movement might cause pain in your breast area.
At a follow-up appointment, you might need to have your stitches removed. In some cases, only your surgeon may opt to put drainage tubes near your surgical sites. If you have those, they will need to be removed, too.
You will be able to see the results from your procedure immediately after the surgery. Swelling and tenderness might make it difficult to assess final results, which you can only see after you have healed completely.
The results of the procedure should be long-lasting, but they are not guaranteed to last forever. You may require follow-up surgeries to replace implants in the future. Some people also decide to reverse the surgery at a later time.
After surgery, you should maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you smoke cigarettes, quit smoking as smoking can delay healing.
Is Breast Augmentation Safe?
It is important for you to note that breast implants are not designed to last a lifetime. You might require a replacement after a few years. After breast implant surgery, you should visit your surgeon and have periodic examinations to monitor your implants.
Silicone gel−filled breast implants have been under scrutiny for several years. But after gathering data, the FDA has approved them for use in cosmetic breast enhancement surgery. They have found no link between silicone gel implants and problems such as breast cancer, connective tissue disease, or reproductive issues.
In addition, the FDA has given approval to three companies to develop and market breast implants. You can refer to the FDA website for more information on silicone breast implants.
Surgical techniques for breast augmentation are continually being refined, in terms of safety of the material and reliability of the procedure. Ask your surgeon to provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision.
Breast augmentation surgery can change the size, shape and volume of your breasts. The surgery would improve your body image and self-esteem. But you should keep your expectations realistic and not expect perfection.
Also, note that your breasts will continue to age even after augmentation. Moreover, weight gain or loss might change the way your breasts look.
You should also find a board-certified plastic surgeon. Aside from reviews and qualifications, make sure you are comfortable with your surgeon and confident in his abilities.
At times, it can be difficult to know exactly which procedure or combination of treatment will help you achieve your aesthetic goals. Consul with your doctor to help you make that decision, get a realistic idea of what can be achieved, and tailor a treatment plan specific to your unique body and goals.