Feeling good about the way you look is important — it can increase self-esteem and boost confidence. But for some women, the size and shape of their breasts can affect their self-esteem.
If you want to change the shape, size, or symmetry or your beasts, it may be time to look into breast augmentation.
A breast augmentation — sometimes referred to as augmentation mammoplasty — involves using breast implants or a fat transfer to increase the size of your breasts. This can be because your breasts have gotten smaller after weight loss or a pregnancy, or simply because you want larger breasts. A breast augmentation can’t lift breasts significantly, though a breast lift can be done alongside a breast augmentation for an overall size increase and lift.
Considering breast augmentation? Here is what you need to know about the benefits and risks, how it works, and what to expect during and after the procedure.
Choosing Breast Augmentation
Remember: Deciding to undergo a plastic surgery procedure is deeply personal. You should be certain you’re doing it for yourself and not to fulfill anyone else’s standards or desires. Patient satisfaction tends to be high for this procedure, especially when you’ve made the decision on your own.
If the following criteria apply to you, then breast augmentation may be a good option:
- You are physically healthy.
- You are neither pregnant nor breastfeeding.
- You have realistic expectations about the outcome of this procedure, understanding that it won’t directly impact more than the size of your breasts.
- You have fully developed breasts.
- You are bothered by the size, shape, or symmetry of your breasts.
If you can confidently say these all apply to your situation, you may be a good candidate for a breast augmentation. If you’re unsure if any of these apply to you, a plastic surgeon or your primary care provider can help.
What Are the Different Types of Breast Implants?
There are several types of breast implants. Your physician will determine the right type to use depending on the look you are trying to achieve and your age.
Types of breast implants include:
- Saline breast implants are filled with sterile salt water, and they provide a uniform shape, firmness, and feel.
- Structured saline breast implants are filled with sterile salt water, and they contain an internal design meant to make the implant feel more natural.
- Silicone breast implants are filled with silicone gel, making the implant feel more like natural breast tissue.
- Form-stable implants — sometimes referred to as gummy bear implants — contain silicone gel that’s thicker than traditional silicone gel implants, making them firmer and able to maintain their shape.
- Round breast implants can make breasts appear fuller due to their shape.
- Smooth breast implants are the softest feeling, and they can move within the space provided in the breast, giving them more natural-looking movement.
- Textured breast implants cause the surrounding tissue to form scar tissue, which the implant sticks to, helping them stay in place and avoid repositioning.
With any type of breast implant, there are risks, such as the implant leaking or collapsing. If the implant leaks or collapses, don’t panic. It’s usually harmless, but you should see your physician because it may mean that you’ll need another surgery to correct it.
Your plastic surgeon will go over the risks of each one and help you make the decision that works best for you.
How Can You Prepare for a Breast Augmentation?
Preparation is key for any surgery, and a breast augmentation is no exception. It’s important you let your physician know if you are or could be pregnant, as this might prohibit you from having the procedure done.
You should also let your physician know of any medications you are taking, including prescriptions, supplements, or herbs. You may be asked to stop taking certain medications — such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or warfarin — that can make it hard for your blood to clot.
Also, you’ll need to stop smoking before the procedure, as it can lead to excess bleeding during the surgery as well as increased risk of infection afterward.
You might need to get a complete health exam or blood tests to make sure you are physically healthy enough for the procedure. Your physician might have you get a mammogram or breast X-rays beforehand in order to have a pre-surgery record, in case there are any complications.
What Happens During Breast Augmentation?
Breast augmentation involves placing the implant in the breast and closing the incision.
- You will be given general anesthesia — a medication to make you sleep so that you won’t feel any pain during the procedure or remember it later.
- Your physician will make a cut in your breast. It will be done in an area that’s not easy to see, such as along the edge of your areola, underneath the breast along the natural fold of your skin, or in your armpit. The exact location depends on your preference for where the scar will be and the type of implant.
- The breast implant will be inserted into a pocket of your tissue either underneath or over the pectoral muscle (chest muscle) but directly behind the breast tissue.
- Your physician will close the internal incisions with layered stitches within the breast tissue.
- Sutures, skin adhesive, or surgical tape is used to close the skin. The incisions will fade over time.
The Breast Augmentation Procedure: A Step-By-Step
What Can You Expect During Your Recovery?
You will likely be able to go home the same day of the procedure, once you are able to walk and drink water safely. You should make sure you have someone who can drive you home because the anesthesia will make it difficult for you to safely drive yourself.
Your physician will wrap gauze around your breasts, and you’ll need to wear either an elastic bandage or a special support bra to minimize swelling and support your breasts as they heal. You may be able to remove the gauze within a few days, but your physician may recommend the support bra for up to a few months.
Recovery is a little different for each type of implant and procedure, so your physician will give you specific post-operative instructions. You’ll also need to schedule a follow-up appointment to ensure that everything is healing correctly.
Within 1 to 5 days, your pain should begin to subside. However, you might have some soreness or swelling for a few weeks. Reduce your activity levels and take it easy after the procedure to help your body heal. Check with your physician regarding specific limitations on exercise and resuming normal activity.
What Are the Risks of Breast Augmentation?
As with any surgery, there are risks involved with breast augmentations. Possible risks include:
- Bad reactions to anesthesia, such as breathing problems
- Excess bleeding, blood clots, or infection during the surgery
- Difficulty breastfeeding
- Loss of feeling in the nipple area
- Small scars, usually in a hidden area
- Uneven positioning of nipples
- Different sizes or shapes of the two breasts
- Breaking or leakage of the implant
- Hardening of the breast tissue
You may also need additional surgeries, such as revision surgery. This procedure is used to change breast size or the type of implant; repair a possible rupture, reposition an implant; or break up scar tissue that may form around the implant, causing the surrounding tissue to feel hard.
With any type of implant, it’s important that you monitor your breast implants and follow up with your physician. You should also be on the lookout for signs of complications, such as:
- Decreased breast size
- Pain or tenderness beyond the healing time
- Tingling, swelling, numbness, or burning
What Are Common Misconceptions About Breast Augmentation?
Myth: All breast implants need to be replaced after 10 years.
Fact: Some women get their implants replaced before or after the 10-year mark, while others never get them replaced at all.
A revision doesn’t necessarily mean that there was a problem. While some revisions are due to the implant leaking or breaking, many are performed because women want to change the appearance of their breasts again.
Since leaks and breaks are possible, it’s important to have routine follow-ups. These may include breast exams or imaging tests. Your physician will recommend the frequency of follow-ups, as well as the type of follow-up needed.
Myth: Breast implants can cause autoimmune diseases or breast cancer.
Fact: There have been a few reports of women who believe they developed breast cancer or an autoimmune disease — where your immune system destroys healthy cells in your body, instead of illness — from their implants.
These cases have received a lot of media attention, but that doesn’t mean they are true. Studies of hundreds of thousands of women with breast implants have shown no connection. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has performed extensive testing and approved the safety of all implants used in the US.
Myth: Women can choose to be whatever bra cup size they want.
Fact: While there are many options regarding size and type of implant, the exact cup size after a breast augmentation is not entirely predictable. This is mostly due to the variation in what a cup size is for each bra manufacturer.
The way to get the most natural-looking implants is to discuss your options with your physician.
Why Choose Stormont
Located in Topeka, Kansas, Stormont Vail Health is a community-driven organization. It offers close to home care and with limited travel requirements, it will be easier for you to get the care you need in a community you trust.
In 2018, Stormont Vail achieved Magnet designation for a third time. Magnet designation is one of the highest awards in nursing excellence and high-quality patient care. Only 9% of US hospitals have earned this recognition. The Joint Commission — with more than 50 years of accrediting hospitals in high quality standards — has also accredited Stormont Vail Hospital.
With several plastic surgeons and a nursing team that’s been recognized for excellence with the prestigious Magnet designation, Stormont Vail has an experienced and skilled medical team to help you explore whether breast augmentation is right for you.
Make an Appointment
- To make an appointment at Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, call (785) 354-9591.
See a Primary Care Provider
- Call (785) 270-4440 to schedule an appointment with your Stormont Vail primary care provider.
- Not a Stormont Vail patient? Call (785) 270-4440 to set up your first appointment with one of our primary care providers.