Breast Augmentation, or breast enlargement, is a popular cosmetic surgery procedure where breast implants are used to enlarge and reshape the breasts. Many women who are dissatisfied with the size of their breasts choose breast augmentation to increase breast fullness, projection and add balance to their figure. Women who want to restore breast volume lost because of pregnancy or weight loss are also good candidates for breast augmentation.
Most women who opt for Breast Augmentation (Augmentation Mammaplasty) successfully achieve a fuller appearance and a boost to their self-confidence. Breast augmentation was one of the most popular cosmetic surgical procedures in 2020 with more than 190,000 procedures performed, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Types of Breast Implants
Breast Implants are available in many different sizes, shapes and projections for women with different body types and different appearance goals. Implants are filled with either a sterile saline solution or silicone gel. Both of these types of implants have a silicone elastomer shell.
Saline Breast Implants are inserted while empty and then filled with saline during surgery. Saline implants are most commonly round with a smooth surface. These types of implants do not distort the breast shape if rotation occurs and require a smaller incision.
Silicone Breast Implants are pre-filled with cohesive silicone gel that is soft to the touch. To many people, silicone implants provide the most natural look and feel. They are especially favored by women who are more thin with a smaller amount of breast tissue.
Breast Augmentation Candidates
The best candidates for Breast Augmentation are in good health and want to enhance their appearance with fuller breasts and a more pleasing feminine contour. Women should be well-informed about their treatment options and have realistic expectations for the procedure.
Many women simply feel that larger breasts would enhance their body's overall balance, proportions and contour. Their clothes may not fit as well as they would like them to or they may feel self-conscious in swimwear. Other women consider breast augmentation because of breast volume lost due to pregnancy, weight loss or aging.
If you believe you may be a good candidate for breast augmentation, please schedule a consultation with a Top Plastic Surgeon.
Costs and Financing
Most plastic surgery procedures are considered to be elective and are usually not covered by health insurance. However, health insurance may cover all or part of your procedure if the surgery is deemed to be medically necessary rather than strictly cosmetic. For instance, Breast Reduction may be covered for women whose overly large breasts cause them to suffer from back and neck pain. Many reconstructive procedures such as Breast Reconstruction, Skin Grafts and Scar Revision may also be covered. Review your plan and check with your health insurance provider to determine which procedures may be covered.
Financing procedures such as Breast Augmentation can make your procedure more affordable by breaking up the cost with monthly payments. Patient financing is available from companies that offer a broad range of options and convenient online tools.
Many Plastic Surgeons offer discounts when more than one procedure is performed at the same time. Combination procedures, such as a cosmetic surgery makeover, can help you to save on costs and limit yourself to a single recovery period.
Plastic Surgery Consultation
During your Breast Augmentation consultation, the Plastic Surgeon will perform a physical evaluation, answer your questions and offer expert advice. He or she will examine the size and shape of your breasts, their symmetry, the amount of cleavage and any other factors that could affect the surgery, such as the characteristics of your skin.
Be prepared to discuss your overall health and medical history. Bring a list of current medications, vitamins and previous surgeries, including any type of breast procedures.
The Plastic Surgeon and his or her staff will help you determine the best Breast Implants to suit your body and your desired results. Your surgeon's office will also address costs, risks and possible complications, preparing for surgery, how the surgery is performed and what to expect during the recovery process.
How Surgery is Performed
Your Plastic Surgeon will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for your Breast Augmentation procedure and the recovery period. These instructions will include guidelines for eating, drinking, medications and vitamins, and follow-up appointments.
During surgery, Breast Implants are inserted into a pocket behind the breasts, positioned beneath the nipples and the incisions closed with stitches. Parts of the procedure may vary depending on the incision locations and implant placement sites. The details of your specific procedure will be explained by the surgeon at your consultation.
The four main types of Breast Augmentation incisions are:
- Inframammary Fold (beneath the breast)
- Peri-Areolar (around the nipple)
- Transaxillary (in the armpit)
- Transumbilical (at the upper rim of the belly button)
After the incision is made, Breast Implants are placed behind the breasts to expand the contour of the breast tissues. The implants can be placed:
- Over the pectoralis muscle (subglandular)
- Partially under the muscle (partial submuscular)
- Completely under the muscle (full submuscular)
The subglandular placement tends to create a more distinct cleavage and rounded appearance, while the partial and full submuscular placements are usually less rounded and may provide a more natural breast shape, especially in the upper breasts.
Risks and Recovery
All surgeries, including Breast Augmentation, have some degree of risk. Common surgical risks include discomfort, infection and adverse reaction to anesthesia. Breast Augmentation also carries specific risks associated with surgery using Breast Implants, such as capsular contracture (when unusualy hard and dense scar tissue forms around the implant).
You can minimize your risk of developing a complication by carefully following all post-operative instructions from your Plastic Surgeon both before and after your breast augmentation procedure. Notify your surgeon's office right away if you experience any severe swelling, bruising, pain or other symptoms that appear to be serious or worsening.
For the recovery period, take things you will need from high shelves or cupboards and place them on a countertop or table. Stretching for items you have to reach up for will be uncomfortable for about a week after surgery. Have foods and snacks available that are light on the stomach. Lay out some comfortable clothes such as shirts that fit loosely and open in the front. Have a couple of cotton sports bras without underwire or post-surgical bras on hand to provide comfort and support for the breasts.
Normal symptoms experienced after breast augmentation surgery are usually minor and subside rapidly. These symptoms include moderate swelling and bruising, mild to moderate pain and discomfort, incision line crusting, numbness, itching and tingling. Your post-op instructions will include guidelines for managing normal symptoms after surgery. Contact your Plastic Surgeon's office immediately if you have any symptoms you believe may indicate a complication.
Most women are up and around the day after breast augmentation surgery, and can return to work or resume most normal activities within a few days. Vigorous physical activity such as body weight training should be delayed for up to 6 weeks. Again, please follow your Plastic Surgeon's advice on resuming your normal activities.