Breast Augmentation FAQ

Getting a breast augmentation is a major decision, and with any big choice comes loads of questions.--you'll have inquiries before and after the procedure. Here are some top questions and answers covering the pre-operation and recovery period.

Pre-Breast Augmentation

Can silicone gel move outside the pocket or scar capsule?

Yes. According to the FDA, silicone can migrate away from the breast. Free silicone can form granulomas in and around the breast, as well as other areas of the body where silicone has traveled, such as the abdomen, arms, armpit, and chest wall. Usually, the free silicone stays within the scar capsule and does not go to other areas.

How long are the incisions used for breast augmentation?

This depends a lot on your surgeon's skill, as well as the type and size of implant you choose. If you get an inflatable saline implant, the incision will be approximately an inch long, but may be shorter. If you get a pre-filled implant, such as silicone, the incision will be a little longer. Textured implants are a little firmer than smooth implants, so they require longer incisions (for textured, pre-filled implants). Some surgeons say placing these implants is like trying to squeeze a ball of sandpaper through a small incision.

In short, some incisions will need to be longer than others.

Will my areolas stretch out after I get implants?

This varies from woman to woman. If you get large implants, then you may notice a difference in nipple/areola size.

What is the minimum age to have a breast augmentation?

As of May 2000, federal law prohibits breast augmentation for purely aesthetic purposes in females under the age of 18.

Will my insurance pay for my breast augmentation?

Generally speaking, your insurance will not pay for any surgery that is for purely cosmetic purposes. However your insurance will likely cover some of the cost if you have a physical deformity, such as one breast larger than the other, trauma to the chest requiring repair, or if you are a mastectomy patient. Insurance may also cover a breast reduction if your breasts are large and cause quality of life issues like severe back, neck, and shoulder pain.

Will I get stretch marks when I have my breast augmentation? Can I prevent them?

It’s literally impossible to determine whether you will get stretch marks after your breast augmentation, however you aren't likely to get them. Many doctors believe that skin elasticity is a large factor, however, you can always take preventative measures. Many women moisturize heavily prior to their surgeries by using Palmer's Cocoa Butter, shea butter lotion, and vitamin E. It certainly does not hurt to try it.

If your breasts have pre-existing stretch marks from pregnancy, breastfeeding, weight gain, etc., the implants will most likely help fill them out and make them less noticeable. Regardless of where they are, stretch marks are treatable with laser surgery.

Breast Augmentation Recovery

How do I know if there’s a problem with my incision?

If your incision is healing slowly, red, feverish, painful, appears to be opening up, or has oozing pus, you need to contact your doctor immediately. These are signs of infection.

What can I do about itchy incisions?

Don't worry--itching occurs when the incision starts healing. It's perfectly normal. Try applying a warm or cool (not too hot, not too cold) compress on or around the site. This sometimes alleviates the itchy feeling for a while. Many women claim the change in temperature helps. Try scratching around the incision also, as this helps as well.

Do not apply anti-itch creams (Cortizone, etc.) to your incision, or anything else until the wound has completely closed. Once it has completely closed, you probably won't experience anymore itching.

What can I do about itchy breasts?

If your breasts themselves are itching, it's most likely due to the skin stretching. Apply moisturizing lotion on them, but make sure you avoid your incisions (assuming they're in the crease or around the areola).

Will I have to massage my implants after my augmentation?

All surgeons have different opinions regarding massaging smooth breast implants. Some doctors ask their patients to do it, and others say that it is neither necessary nor beneficial. The doctors who suggest it believe that it helps to keep the pocket open, thus helping to deter capsule contracture. This has nothing to do with how the surgery is performed; it's simply a matter of whether your surgeon prefers and recommends massage.

Most surgeons advise against massaging textured breast implants. The purpose of the textured shell is for it to adhere to your tissue. If you move the implant, you interfere with the implant adhering to the tissue.

Do exactly as your doctor asks you. This is important, because if you do not follow instructions and you encounter a complication, you will likely bear the responsibility. Do not be afraid to ask your doctor questions regarding their instructions.

Does smoking affect my recovery?

Most doctors recommend that you stop smoking prior to surgery, especially if you are having a breast lift.

Capillaries are microscopic vessels are the link between arteries and veins. Through their walls (which are so small that only one red blood cell can pass through at a time), blood and tissue cells exchange various substances. The blood gives oxygen and nutrients to the cells and collects their waste.

Breast lift patients have even more reason to stop smoking. Smoking decreases the amount of oxygen in the blood and slows healing by constricting the capillaries. Lack of oxygen to the tissues leads to necrosis (death of healthy tissue). Due to the many incisions your surgeon makes during a breast lift (depending upon what type get), you most certainly do not want to compromise oxygen flow to those tissues. In severe cases, necrosis can lead to extrusion of the implant. It also puts you at a much higher risk of infection, as well as ugly scarring.

Will I have swelling?

You will have some degree of post-op swelling, and abdominal or even groin area is not uncommon either. Don't be alarmed, as the swelling will dissipate within a few days to a few weeks. Sleep in a reclining position to help the fluid move away from the breast. Less fluid means less tension on the breast, which means less pain.

Will I have bruising?

You may or may not have bruising. Like swelling, bruising may also occur on your ribs, abdomen, groin, and even as far as your upper thighs, though this isn’t as common. Tell your your surgeon about any bruises that looks really bad and feels firm. This could be a hematoma, a collection of blood outside of a blood vessel.

Will it be comfortable to sleep on my stomach after my surgery?

Yes, but it may take a little time before you get to that stage. It depends on how you recover. Some women can sleep on their stomach as early as two weeks post-op, while it takes others a little longer.

How long will it take my implants to settle into place?

This depends on the individual. You’ll likely see them settle around two to three months post-op. However, slight settling is still possible after this, and may continue for up to a year.

Updated May 2017

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